Thursday, July 05, 2007

Indian Idol

Again a sizeable gap between this post and the last one. No reason to justify this wide a gap, but a long list of personal engangements that have eaten up all my time outside of work. This situation continues and no promises can be made about regular blogging for the next month or so.

In this post, I want to talk about, surprise surprise, Indian Idol. Yeah, this is a reality show that I had almost swore not to follow since it started some 3 years back. I did not watch the first and the second season of the show, though I confess having seen an episode or two of both the seasons, mostly when the remote wasnt in my control. My impression of this show was that this is more of a reality thing than a musical program. More stress on 'drama' than really on music. The show I did follow in the past years was the Zee's Sa Re Ga Ma Pa - Challenge 2005. Now, that was quite an interesting show and it did have some real awesome singers. More than a couple of them were decent enough to sing at the top level, and I believe some of them do.

This season, somehow I have followed the show quite regularly, watching most of the episodes. For one, the judges this time are interesting. Udit Narayan, for one is my fave singer and I wanted to see how would he be as a judge. Javed Akhtar is again someone who is really good with words, even when speaking about the most inane things. To offset these two, there was the squeaky Alisha Chinoy, who I have never liked. And Anu Malek or Malik or Mallik or whatever, to round up the quartet.

My original impressions are mostly accurate, the show, specially in the first few episodes WAS really about the drama and reality. The kind of 'freaks' attempting to qualify for the show was the highlight in the initial parts. Infact most times the show would spend time with participants who were soo bad they were good, than really introducing the more talented participants.

But slowly, things have turned, and its now more about the music. Out of the 13 or so who qualified, atleast 4-5 of them can sing. Now although thats sounds an abysmal ratio, it isnt. Also, the level of drama on display has been mostly in control. Offcourse the contestants do cry, specially the ousted ones, but not so much to put us off. The best part about Indian Idol is the presentation. Its really impressive.. the way things are brought together to stitch a sense of continuity. Things dont feel tattered or badly edited to make up the running time of an episode. The emcees are top class and do a great job, which is to not hog all the limelight. Also, compared to the other two music reality shows, the judges dont hog all the attention. I mean, they do have strong opinions at times, and do have rather animated arguements, its nothing compared to what folks do on SaReGaMaPa and Star Voice Of India. Also, the arguements are often cut short to keep the show running, rather than resolving which of the judges won the round.

Now, I am not trying to promote Indian Idol or extend their claim that the winner is Bharat ki khoj or blah.. all I want to say is that the show is a compelling watch, given you have the time for television. But again, let me admit I do not ever vote for the contestants, nor ever promote that. I purely take Indian Idol as just another television program and not a place to pick the next big singer.

Among the judges, the best of the lot, for me, has been Javed Akhtar. He seems unbiased and mostly provides a fair assessment, thats amazing because he isnt even a singer, unlike the other three (Anu also claims to be one!!). Udit holds on to a netrality, though he never really criticizes a contestant even after a horrible performance. Alisha, what to say, is pathetic. She has a few favorites and will praise them, however their performance may be. And that giggle, it is soo very annoying. Anu Malek tends to dominate the others. He tends to overrule the assessments of the other three, which was quite annoying initially. Slowly, thats reduced. He tends to go overboard criticizing sometimes, but atleast he has a strong opinion. Otherwise, what use is a judge who is there to praise one and all.

Coming onto the singers, finally, I think the better singers among the ladies are-
Charu, who not only has a charming personality but can also sing decently.
Deepali, not really top-class, but has a nice voice and given the right song, does well.
Ankita, again has limited range (which holds true for almost all of the folks) but has a stage presence that elevates her performace.

Among the boys-
Meiyang, the most likeable among the lot, has a smooth voice and render the new brand of music pretty well.
Emon, IMO, the best singer here. His range is the best. If Indian Idol was only a singing contest, he would win hands down.
Prashant, the dark horse. He has an amazing voice with a nice 'something' that is very soothing. He does not have much presence though. Unlikely to win.
Amit Paul, another North-East import. Great voice once again, and he easily renders the songs from the genre of Zubeen Garg and James.

So there it is. I suspect Meiyang, Emon and Abhishek will end up in the top three. Abhishek is another contestant, who is very average as far as singing goes. He does dance well and bring drama to the show. I suspect thats enought to garner votes from the junta.

Whoever wins, I doubt any of them can really make it to the top level as professional singers. They will have their 15 minutes, earn some tidy cash doing live shows and go back into oblivion. Who cares?

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