Indian Idol 3 has now reached the gala round. This has triggered several things: (a) the judges went crazy ass bananas ripping the contestants to shreds (b) the contestants are in full-on competitive mode and (c) everyone looks furtive and worried.
In the earlier rounds, when Smita Adhikari found herself in the uh, "danger zone", she was asked why she ended up there. And it was singularly devastating to hear her tearfully say that it was because she didn't look good enough. When Anu Malek called her personality "depressive" it was the one time I felt like giving him that old Bollywood classic - one tight chata.
Now there has been some bad singing in the galas (compare for example Prashant Tamang's solid "Yeh Hosla" from Dor to Amanat Ali's terrific version on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007) but sometimes you get the feeling the judges are listening to some other soundtrack. In fact, even Anu and Alisha seem to be listening to different shows.
Back to the gala: I'm quite enjoying watching how the contestants react when someone from their midst is singing. Especially someone who they consider to be a threat. For example, much head-shaking from the gang when Ankita is doing her thing (I'm glad she is around). Or Emon keeping a close eye on the judges whenever Prashant is singing. Or the hyper-competitive Deepali keeping tabs on everyone (her envious look at Ankita's prancing was particularly interesting to note).
We've now seen the backs of two girls. After taking flak from Javed Akhtar for sounding too childlike, Richa Aneja got eliminated, couldn't bring herself to sing after her vote-off and engineered a four-hanky tearjerker of an exit. Javedbhai sobbed. Revenge of the bacchi!
Jolly Das - after taking an equal amount of biased flak from Alisha Chinai - was also eliminated. Which wasn't a surprise given that she had limited opportunity to build history with the viewers.
So who still sounds good? Deepali, ever reliable, sang shakily this week (even though the judges seem to like her better this time). Charu seems to have lost her confidence. Parleen is disintegrating fast. Abhishek is maddeningly inconsistent. Puja Chatterjee has bombed badly once. Ankita has always been a JLo-types and Meiyang Chang is rubbing up against the vocal limits of his talent (he is such a smart cookie though that he always seems to have a workaround).
The ones who always sound good to me are: Prashant Tamang, Amit Paul and Emon Chatterjee.
But yeh public hai - yeh sab jaanti hai.