Ronu Mandal. The story of this latest internet sensation has all the exiting elements of a fairy tale. Her journey from an obscure railway station in West Bengal to the glittering platform of a singing reality show in Mumbai seems like an incredibly thrilling rag-to-rich story. It sounds like a miracle that a 59 year old woman, abandoned by her people and left homeless and poverty stricken, should become so popular and garner so much support for her singing all of a sudden, though she must had been signing to earn her bread (biscuit) for quite long. And who doesn’t like miracles?
The long and short of her story goes like this: A 26-year-old engineer, Atindra Chakrborthy, was hanging out at a tea shop in Ranaghat railway station, as a number from Mohammad Rafi’s album was playing out. When the song ended, Atindra and friends heard someone humming it. They were surprised to note that the person was an old woman, looking emaciated and dishevelled. Impressed by the humming, they asked if she would sing a song for them, which she readily did.
Atindra recorded it and posted it on FaceBook July 23. And the video went viral within no time garnering millions of views. It also drew the attention of the organisers of Sony TV singing reality show Super Star Singer. And Ronu appeared and sang in the show in the last week of August. In the process, moved by her rendition, Himesh Reshammiya, who was a judge of the reality show, announced that he would get songs sung by Ronu for his upcoming bollywood movie, Happy Hardy and Heer. Accordingly, in September she recorded two songs for the film.
Today Ronu is no more a pitiable picture with sunken eyes and dishevelled gray hair and costume. She sports jet black hair with a made-up style, and her face, with hint of makeup, is lit with an effervescent, yet innocent, smile. She appears on every possible TV channel across the languages, and cheerfully answers all kinds of appreciating, yet probing, questions.
Now her past life is tumbling out in bits and pieces, though she seems reluctant to divulge much about it. It may be assumed from what has appeared in the media so far that she had faced grievous twists and turns in life, which eventually pushed her onto the platform of a railway station. She said she was born into a well-to do family, which makes her story that more poignant.
Currently, Ronu is enjoying the lime light. But the people who are supporting her should ensure that her story will not turn into that of a shooting star. She should be able to spend het twilight years in comfort, with her head held high.