Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Pyjama pop song a big hit

Shirley Setia was amazed to be recognised in the street in India. Photo / Doug Sherring
Shirley Setia was amazed to be recognised in the street in India. Photo / Doug Sherring

You couldn't get much further from Bollywood but a Kiwi student is fast becoming a sensation in India after winning an online singing competition.

Shirley Setia, 21, was wearing her pyjamas when she recorded a cover of the smash hit song Tum Hi Ho from her parent's house in Dannemora, East Auckland. She entered it into a competition run by major Indian music label T-Series with little idea what would happen.

"If I thought it would get so big in so little time I would have at least posted a good-quality clip - I look like I'm half asleep," she said.

Setia made quite an impression on the judges, who chose the clip out of tens of thousands from around the world as one of the overall winners.

"I never thought that being in New Zealand they would give me that platform but they did and it just got huge."

She has since started her own You Tube channel, playing covers, mostly of Bollywood songs. She has more then 24,000 subscribers and her videos have more than 1.7 million views.

She has even started collecting revenue from advertisements.

"I'm just completely overwhelmed with the response I've received. I don't even know how to express it sometimes. It's very humbling.

"I've never even learned music so to get this kind of appreciation just makes me want to work harder."

Setia, who is in her final year of a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Auckland, travelled to India over the summer and was stunned to be recognised by members of the public.

"It was something I just didn't expect at all - all of sudden I was signing autographs."

She was born in India but has lived in New Zealand most of her life. The allure of India's thriving music industry could tempt her to try to launch a career there but for now she is happy taking things as they come.

"I would love to but moving back is a really big decision. It is something I want to work towards so hopefully things fall in place and I can give it a go."

- Herald on Sunday

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