NZGT's Jessie celebrated in India
An 11-year-old girl who came in second on New Zealand's Got Talent is creating headlines in India.
Wellington's Jessie Hillel was the runner up to 15-year-old school girl Clara van Wel.
Sub-continental media, which love Indian diaspora stories, have given space to Jessie, a Malayali girl from Kottayam in the southern state of Kerala.
While her parents are bound by contract not to give interviews, it is not stopping her grandfather O.M. Mathew, a former professor of political science, who said the competition was hard for his little Jessie.
He told The Hindu his granddaughter emailed soon after the show.
"It was an awesome experience," she said and added she was happy to come second.
The Hindu said Jessie had become a sensation in New Zealand, with a big fan following due to her angelic voice and also her simple demeanour.
Her grandfather said she started singing at the "age of two or three" and had been practising since the age of five.
He said her favourite Malayalam song was Pacha Panam Thathe. She was practising hard, day-in-and-day-out, he said.
"The child will have to take everything in her stride now and focus solely on music," he said.
The Times of India (TOI) said the Oruvattithara family, who called Jessie one of their own, had been praying for her success.
They said her elder sibling Julie was a talented pianist, holding the distinction of performing for New Zealand's parliament members.
"The girl has music in her blood," the grandfather told the newspaper. They noted he is a former national executive member of the conservative Hindu grouping Bharatiya Janata Party and members of the family were trained Carnatic musicians.
Wellington Malayali Association secretary, Jomin Antony, was quoted by TOI, saying Jessie's feat was a rare one since not many talented Indians had tasted such success.
Swaroopa Unni, a Malayali from Dunedin, said: "Jessie is confident and a very talented girl. When you see her hearty smile, her melodious voice, it seems like a wonder."
- © Fairfax NZ News