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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Music reality shows, their judges and fighting ..

There are currently 3 reality shows running on 3 different channels, all related to music. There is 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007' on Zee, also called Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Sangeeth ka Pratham Vishwa Yudh' with contestants from all over, selected through auditions. It started on the 4th of May. And there is the 3rd edition of Indian Idol on Sony; and finally Star Voice of India that premiered on Star and was Star's attempt to break into the music land.
I had occasion to read a report about the TRP's of these 3, and it seemed to confirm what I had from empirical observations, the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa was way ahead, followed by Indian Idol and then Star Voice of India. In my own house, on 2 different channels, the same thing can be seen, with both TV's (spouse and parents) switched onto Zee, on a break onto the Indian Idol, and then rarely the Star Voice of India.
Why so ? I think in the end, the program format, and the choice of judges on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa seems to be the best. What seems to sell, is that there is a certain amount of friction, and it seems natural, since the judges seem to be of the type who have a certain amount of arrogance and are expected to behave in this way. In addition, many times the judges have disputes, and the serial atleast shows parts of these disputes. This adds to the masala of the show, and somehow makes it seem more realistic. So, for example, you had Ismail Darbar doing a major protest against the introduction of 2 regional awards winners, protesting about their not being there from the beginning. The compere, Aditya Narayan was not easily able to mollify him, but in the end, all of them together succeeded.
Further, you have Himesh Reshammiya, who is in a class by himself. Before his movie was released, he was all fire and fury, and he could be expected to throw some sort of tantrum in every episode, although it was fun to watch. But as the release of his debut movie 'Aap Ka Suroor' came closer, he turned more restrained; although I do not expect this to last. The other judges, Bappi Lahiri and Vishal-Shekhar are also in a separate class. Bappi Lahiri, in all his decorations and jewellery, always has some sort of lesson to give, and can be counted on to sing something or the other (and I still admire his voice). It is interesting to watch Vishal-Shekhar, they seeming to be the junior-most judges. Vishal's stare is incredible, never seeming to blink. These 2 are also the most important people for most of the contestants now, with promises being made to many of the contestants about singing for them (which is very good thing). But I tell you, it's interesting to watch the program for many reasons, the singers who are remaining seem to be very good (especially the regional winners of the Bangla and Marathi episodes - Anik Dhar and Abhijeet Kosambi), and there seems to be good relationship between the judges, even when they are in conflict. Aditya Nayarayan is also a revelation, at the beginning, he seemed to be nervous, but is far more comfortable now, even giving his own opinions on many of the singers.
Indian Idol has lost some of the initial charm, for one, the past winners have not done anywhere near as good as one would have thought of people winning the music reality program of a leading TV channel. Anu Malik, Alisha Chinai, Javed Akhtar, and Udit Narayan are the judges. Interesting that Udit is the judge in one, while his son hosts the other. Wonder about conflicts of interest. The program somehow needs to depend on having a celebrity on every episode, and you wonder about actors being able to comment on singing skills (and many times, the actors display ignorance, and you wonder why they are calling celebrities). The show is presented by Hussain and Mini Mathur, but somehow there is just not the excitement that one would expect in a major show. I have always felt that Anu Malik is acerbic just for the heck of it. It is also interesting to see Alisha Chinai and Anu Malik in the same program, given that she had once accused him of sexual harassment.
Judges for the Star Voice of India are Jatin, Aadesh Srivastav, Abhijit Bhattacharya, Alka Yagnik and Lalit, and directed by Gajendra Singh, who created the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa series. This is hosted by Shaan. I really don't have much feedback for this program, having watched a bit only, but I was not terribly impressed. I didn't see much that would make me start watching the program. There seems to be some tension between the judges as well. Some of the judgments left me wondering as to their logic.

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