x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

KS Chitra to return to Dubai after drowning tragedy

The popular Indian playback singer, KS Chitra, whose eight-year-old daughter Nandana drowned in a friend's swimming pool a year ago, will return to Dubai to perform later this year.

DUBAI // A year after the death of her eight-year-old daughter in Dubai, the Indian playback singer KS Chitra is ready to return.

Her family said last week that Chitra will perform in Dubai at the end of the year.

It would be the first time the star has returned to the UAE to sing after her daughter, Nandana, drowned in a private swimming pool in an Emirates Hills villa on April 14, 2011.

"Many people have been calling us, but we were not mentally prepared to come back," said Vijaya Shankar, Chitra's husband, in a telephone interview from their home in Chennai.

"She will do a solo concert in November in Dubai. Two shows have already been confirmed," he said, adding that discussions were under way with the organisers for a third show.

Yesterday was the anniversary of Nandana's death.

The tragedy happened after Chitra had come with her family to perform, along with many other well-known singers, in a tribute concert - A R Rahman Special Hits - at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

The family stayed at a friend's home rather than a hotel in Bur Dubai, where other artists were based.

The singer placed Nandana, a child with special needs, in front of the bedroom television to watch her favourite cartoon, then stepped into the shower. The girl let herself out through the bedroom door, which leads to the pool area, and fell into the water, according to family friends. She was dead by the time she was taken to the Cedars Jebel Ali International Hospital.

Following the death of Nandana and other child drownings last year, Dubai Police repeatedly warned parents not to leave children unattended at pools and beaches.

Officers said a quarter of the 36 drownings recorded in the first six months of 2011 involved people under the age of 18.

In the past year, Chitra has refrained from singing in live shows or travelling abroad.

However, she has been recording playback numbers for movies and is also a judge on two reality shows in south India.

Mr Shankar said his wife would start taking part in live shows once again from this week.

"She has not gone anywhere except for an Ilayaraja concert in January," he said.

Chitra will travel to London, Toronto, New York, Singapore and India in the coming months.

The Dubai organisers of last year's A R Rahman Special Hits said they will invite the artist again for the show, which is scheduled to take place this year.

"We will be doing a show with about 50 singers just like last year," said Sha Mohammed, creative director of Media Factary. "We would like her to come, if not as a performer, at least as a guest," he said, adding that the show's line-up had not yet been finalised.

Chitra's husband said if they received an invitation for her to sing at the same show again, the family would "consider" it. "We share a great rapport with A R Rahman's sisters," he said.

Mr Mohammed said Chitra's return to the Emirates could be emotionally challenging for her. "She will definitely feel bad because she is coming for the same show, which will include the same set of singers from last year," he said.

Recalling last year's events, he said: "I remember asking her to stay at the hotel room we had booked for her and other singers. But, she wanted to stay with her friend because the child would get better care and home food. And, the next morning, we heard this terrible news."

Known as the nightingale of South India because of her melodious voice, Chitra has recorded more than 15,000 songs.

She has received six national film awards from the Indian government, and several other film awards. She began her music career in 1983.

The popular singer is endearingly known by fans and friends as Chitra "chechi", which translates as elder sister in Malayalam.