Shillpi A Singh
Zbigniew A. Chertlur is only seven years old but already an Internet sensation, popular on the web as the “6-year-old foreigner who sings Telugu and Indian patriotic songs”. He has a huge fan following on the social media, around 3,000 followers on Facebook and in a short span of time, he has grabbed more than three million eyeballs on his FB page. He is quite a rage on the YouTube as well with many ardent fans who subscribe to his channel, follow it, watch his uploads and share it on their social media handles.
Fondly called Bujji or Zbigs by his friends and family, Zbigniew was born on April 30, 2009, in Wroclaw, Poland. Currently based in London, Bujji is a well-known face in the modelling and acting circuit in the UK. He was the face of TESCO, Nissan, and Camelot commercials and has acted in a handful of short films.
Known as a boy who remembers everything and forgets nothing, Bujji’s claim to fame, however, is his rendition of long forgotten Telugu songs, both film and devotional numbers that have captured the imagination of the Telugu speaking communities settled in the US and the UK. His most popular ones are Nevena Nanu Pilichinadi and Lahiri Lahiri Lahiri Lo from the NTR-starrer Mayabazar and Paadutaa Teeyagaa Challaga from Mooga Manasulu. On the occasion of Ugadi, Telugu New Year, he shared a video of his rendition of the Telugu anthem, Maa Telugu Talliki Malle Poodanda, to greet Telugu people across the globe. The video has been well received by the community spread across the world and has become viral.
Bujji’s parents moved bag and baggage to London four years ago to give him a better future. Though he is fluent in English and Polish, he can sing in Spanish and Telugu, and that’s quite a feat. He started learning Telugu songs in December 2015 and four months alone he has sung many yesteryear hits and devotional numbers, perfectly taking care of its nuances and accent. His renditions are a huge hit on the Internet. A fashion photographer by profession, Bujji’s father Sharath C. Chertlur, who initiated him into singing in Telugu said, “He has a remarkable memory. One day, I heard him humming a Spanish song. Befuddled, I asked him how did he learn it? His response was equally surprising. He said from TV. That is when I thought of introducing him to the Telugu language. The first one that I taught him was a Suklam Baradharam Vishnum, a difficult devotional song and he did a fantastic job with it. I must say that with every presentation, he is improving and taking it a notch higher.”
A gifted child, he has a photographic memory. At 3, he could recognise car brands by seeing their logos alone. By the time he turned 4, he had memorised the capitals of more than 250 countries. He then learned about important inventions and discoveries and some of the physics like Newton’s Laws. All of this when he could not write or read, but yes, he could remember when told and repeat when asked. “He remembered everything and forgot nothing of what I said to him and that made me realise that probably we should move to the UK to give him a good education and more exposure,” said Sharath.
A student of Grade 2 at Parsloes Primary School in London, he is an avid reader, and his favourite authors are Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, and Francesca Simon.
He is bound to leave you spellbound with his in-depth knowledge of India, its culture, languages, religions and above all the epics — Ramayana and Mahabharata — and other mythological stories and characters. His favourite Gods are Krishna, Shiva, and Hanuman, and he credits YouTube for bringing him closer to his Telugu roots.
His mother, Urzula E Chertlur, who is a manager in a jewellery firm in London, is yet to come to terms with her son’s growing fan following. “I want Zbigs to stay grounded, but aim for the sky.” She added that her son is a foodie and loves Indian sweets, his favourites being Kaju Barfi and Besan Laddu.
For the young boy, it was overwhelming to perform in front of a crowd of 2,000-odd Telugu speaking people here in London for the APNRT function held at the White House Complex in honour of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s recent visit to the United Kingdom.
A budding actor, he is a big fan of the Khan trio and Big B from Hindi cinema and Mahesh Babu and Pawan Kalyan from Telugu movie. Bujji’s last screen outing was Simon Giles’, The Sting of a Martyr, a psychological drama, where he shared screen space with Michael Luke Walsh, Karina Diglyte, Antonia Turner, and Steve Nicolson. Bujji has also landed a plum role in Roland Joffe’s untitled next. But he seemed quite excited about his next movie Lost in the Snow, which will be extensively shot in Poland, his land.
On the domestic front, he has bagged a full-length role in Telugu movie to be directed by Gopi Mohan and another one by Chandra Siddhartha. Praising the young prodigy, Mohan said, “Bujji is a small wonder. His renditions of old Telugu film songs left me speechless. His talent needs a bigger platform, and I am happy to have him on board for my next movie.”
And not just Telugu, he will soon bowl over his fans and followers with old Hindi film songs. “I am trying to reach a wider audience. Hindi is our national language, and it is spoken and understood by so many people across the globe that it becomes indispensable to have Hindi songs in my repertoire,” said Bujji.
He is flooded with offers for stage shows in the US. Sneha Vedula, the founder of Tulip Kids and Team Shakti, who is enamoured with his singing prowess, said, “He is a talented young boy, and it would be great to have him here for one of the cultural festivals in near future. His spirited renditions will inspire Telugu people in the US to take pride in their language, the Italian of the East. God willing, it will happen soon.”
If you are wondering about his favourite song, the young singing sensation has an ace up his sleeve. It’s the National Song Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram. It’s a perfect parting shot and that too on a patriotic note from a small wonder called Bujji.
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