Ishmeet Singh, winner of the popular Star Plus reality show Voice of India 2007, was found drowned in a swimming pool in the Maldives on Tuesday evening.

The 19 year-old Ludhiana based singer was on his promotional tour to promote a music label with which he had signed a contract.

The producer of Voice of India, Gajendra Singh, who knew Ishmeet well, said he was too stunned to react. “Ishmeet was like a child to me and I can’t still believe that he is no longer with us. I feel choked thinking about it and am trying hard to overcome my grief,” he said.

Ishmeet had already finished recording a romantic album with music director Lalit Sen and was about to lend his voice for the music director’s forthcoming project. The music director has finished recording for the album whose title track is named as ‘Dhol Wajda’, a bhangra pop number.

Harshit Saxena, who lost to Ishmeet in the VoI finals, and a fellow contestant in Jo jeeta wohi superstar, said, “We have been together for almost two years now and have shared the same room as a part of the show. Although we were the final contenders in VoI, there was no sense of competition and we were like brothers. I remember him as a guy who used to love net surfing and ate a lot of pizzas!” Harshit, in fact, was to have accompanied Ishmeet to the Maldives for the same day, but could not due to prior commitments.

Himani Kapoor who had been with Ishmeet in VoI and Jo jeeta wohi superstar, remembers him as a reserved and humble guy who had a smile on his face, come what may. She recalls, “We had this Punjabi connection and we used to chat sometimes in Punjabi. I still can’t get over the fact that something so terrible happened with him. During the shoots, we all used to bully him and play pranks on him.”

Reminiscing the Jo Jeeta wohi superstar days, Kapoor adds, “I remember the Mother’s Special episode where Ishmeet’s mom gave him a surprise by coming to the sets and she recollected his childhood, saying he used to shun water, and threw tantrums when he had to have a bath.”

Ishmeet’s mom was not very keen with him taking up music as a career and, on the sets of Jo jeeta wohi superstar, he promised to qualify as a Chartered Accountant. Kapoor points out, “He had even looked for some CA courses in Mumbai and was going to take up studies to make his mother happy.”

Ishmeet had signed a three year contract with Big Music and had also finalised his world music tour. Insiders say Ishmeet was also reading some Punjabi scripts that had come his way. With the victory in Voice of India, he had become a known face in Punjab and his picture was also used on lottery tickets in the state.

Singer Shaan, who hosted the VoI series on Star Plus, remembers Ishmeet as a unique and wonderful youngster. “He was a perfect role model and example of how one should be. Someone, who never had any issues with anybody, and though on many occasions he was in a tough position, he took everything in his stride.”

Referring to his passion for music, Shaan recalls, “Ishmeet was very ambitious and had made plans for his playback singing career. He had set a deadline for himself and he wanted to cut an album. I remember him saying ‘If nothing, I’ll go ahead with something which is classical.”

Talking about the album, Pandit said, “Ishmeet was a very talented singer who took all our feedback very seriously. He had a North flavor in his voice which stood out and made him so popular. I will release his album soon as he has worked extremely hard for the album. I shared a very good bond with him; he was very fond of me. I will always cherish him in memory.”

“I still can’t forget our visit to his home town. The whole unit of Voice of India had been at his home for a visit and I had chatted with Ishmeet in his room. He was very modest. We always urged him to act like a sardar and be fearless about everything. The last I had met him was when we were shooting for his album, in which I made a special appearance. He was just like a younger brother to me.”