Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ustaadon ka Ustaad: First Look

There are several reasons Ustaadon Ke Ustaad (Sony Entertainment Television) is such good fun these days. Most of it has to with that timeless crabby patty of reality TV: Javed Akhtar.

First, Javed Akhtar (or as Sidekick calls him: Judge Javed, reminding me of Stallone in Judge Dredd) mauled the standup comics - spinning them into depression. But more on that later.

Then he took a huge dig at co-judge Shekhar Suman with a "singing is about vocals and not strutting" comment that was an obvious reference to Suman's own shimmy-and-croak career. To my eternal gratitude, Suman took the bait resulting in a delicious little segue.

When the third judge Saroj Khan complained that she was being ground out by the arguing between her two co-judges, Javed coolly turned around and said "I do it in the hope that it will thin you out".

This can be called the cricketing equivalent of middling the ball - in other words, Judge Javed was in fine nick. And the panic amongst the contestants was palpable.

UKU is a short-lived (we are already on to the semifinals) show that pits a selection of contestants from reality shows across channels in four major categories: singing (adult), singing (child), dance and comedy. And in some way that I haven't figured out yet: a winner will be picked.

It doesn't matter - the devil, as they say, is in the very amusing details. I should mention at this point in the interests of full disclosure that I completely FF'd the children's singing.

Even with so much good laughter to go around two incidents stood out.

At one point during the dance, Jay Bhanushali - or as I call him: the Prince of Smirk - executed a rather energetic dance with his partner Bindi which involved both partners twirling a cape. Javed hated it - he felt the dancers were uncoordinated. Saroj Khan loved it. At this point Javed launched into a personal attack on Saroj Khan. When the matter came down to technique Javed fixated on to the fact that Bindi was playing a bull. "How can a bull have a cape?!" he kept insisting. Javedbhai, how can a woman play a bull, then? Its called creative license. But please, carry on!

Earlier in an elimination round, a bunch of comics executed some truly sorry routines. Laughter all around died like the bushes behind the latrine in my college. Saroj Khan bluntly told all the comics they were terrible. And what happens? Comedy Andolan! The comics insisted that Saroj be thrown out! Cut to scenes of a production assistant alternately cajoling and scolding the comics who were threatening a walk out at that point. This segment I hugely enjoyed - first for its lack of utter logic and later for its lack of class.

The comics returned to perform - this time accompanied by those hugely annoying sound effects - and blew. But by this time the judges had softened and lips were curled even if they had to pulled up by a crane.

The other big reason I watched UKU was to check in on the singers who populated shows like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Voice of India and Indian Idol 3 last year. There were six of them and lets take a quick look at each one, shall we?

Emon Chatterjee: Wearing a hairstyle that looked like a cross between a bagalthela kavi and rocker wannabe, Emon showed the least growth among all the contestants. His voice remains sweet but his low notes were a disaster.

Amit Paul: Emon's II3 compatriot sang well, but chose his songs better. His willingness to sing something new on the show was welcome bravery.

Toshi: Voice of India's unofficial superstar, he had the crowd eating out of his hands with hugely improvised and polished performances. (Plus its amazing how much a comb can improve one's appearance). Forget the fact that he sang his ghasaa-pitaa favorites - he did it with aplomb.

Raja Hasan: Turns out SRGMP's fan favorite is Toshi's BFF. His singing did not show any marked improvement - although to be fair, there isn't too much to improve. He retains a powerhouse voice and an excellent singing intensity.

Sumitra: a classic singer in the Lata mould (which means she sings well but her tonal quality is in Alvin and the Chipmunks territory), she displayed a new found ability to connect with her audience.

Mauli Dave: Picking ambitious songs but those that suited her ability to hit high notes, Mauli reached beyond her talent. And by handling Sajid Khan's PJs graciously and smiling copiously she endeared herself to the judges.

Also:

55 comments:

Spruha said...

Yay! Great Post!

The 10-minute bull argument was pure entertainment! I don't think I've laughed that hard in a long while. It was rather intriguing to see JJ claim his expertise in the matter.

anu g said...

Ha ha, Fantastic post Aspi.I was literally rofl while watching the show, and now ur post has brought back all those 'memories' and I'm rofl again. The captions r also superb. Ha,ha, its been pretty long since we've had a post from u on a reality show,..this has been worth the wait:).
I wish u had the foto of Javed putting both his fingers on his head bull-style, and saying that if Bindi wanted to show she was a bull, she should have done this.

Pitu said...

Hahaha sounds like an insane show! I love Saroj so much I'd prolly watch it for her though I dunno how to look at Shekhar's man cleavage ;-(

megan said...

the third dude with his cleavage flashing.. that dude was totally trying to impress with his selection of big hindi words.. haha he was effin annoying.. i can't stand that FUG

i love the show... i still think Toshi is majorly overrated. I just don't see it. He over-sings all the time.. Raja is so much better. His Piya Haji Ali > Toshi's Piya Re..

and yet he didn't get the same praise.. I wasn't impressed..

and Aspi what is your beef with Raja??

Mauli was the same ole same ole.. TONEDEAF. Someone should tell her that she don't have the body. Her hips are mega wide and her make up ghastly and her face FUGLY..

Shveta Shalve?? SHE'S A ONE TRICK PONY.. she looks so arrogant like she thinks she's all that. I can't stand that bitch...

Sandhya was more tolorable here than JDJ..

Vibhore and Tanmay were major cutie pies. Love them.. The kid with glasses, GRRRRR so overrated

Shelly (??) she was cute...

Vadundra - major cuteness...

I was so embarassed for those so called comedians, they weren't FUNNY..

m said...

jay's dance was rly good.. i liked it..

i wish Raja was in jo jeetega woh superstar

m said...

Moving on to JJWS!!!!!!!

OMG Roop Rekha - did someone say ATTITUDE PROBLEM.. she was a grade A biarch ..

I cringed when she got the points and praise the following day. I was so hoping she'd get dissed majorly.. much to my disbelief, shekhar went to stage to give her a bottle of water. WTF?

OMG Priyani's BOOBS!!! they were jiggling. I don't think she wore a bra underneath. It was so weird. They're HUGE

Joules said...

OMG, Reading about JJ I am wondering how Ms. Azmi lives with that man. I wonder if she ever gets a word in, at home.

Aspi said...

Arre megan, I don't have any beef with Raja. I actually like him quite a bit. But no one is above my entertainment :) so if there is fun to be had with him, it shall be done.

I will check out JJWS next. I think if there is no singing on the show, I get bored quickly. There is a reason Idol is such a global phenom.

About Shweta Salve - she looks good and has some spit and polish and she does end up getting a lot of attention because of that. Jay actually pulled a clever one and mentioned that to Javed at one point. Pretty amusing.

Although it must be said the one dance she did I liked quite a bit.

I wish UKU would have lasted longer. There is tons of humor to be squeezed from Shekhar Suman and Saroj Khan. I'm sure Mind Rush would have pitched in one of these days too.

meena said...

I think shekhar suman totally honed up on his urdu to come on this show. He wouldnt let up! Its like he spit on his hands, dug his heels in and said I'll show you! to JJ. Mind Rush, how about this deliberate use of urdu? Is he in shiamak territory yet? altho, his motivation seems to be to get JJ and not just display something.

And what was with his dracula coat outfit with side belts and man cleavage? and how much work has he had done on his face? I had no idea I was in for this much entertainment when I started watching this show midway!

meena said...

Joules, I wouldnt underestimate ms.Azmi. I think she is extremely strong willed, opinionated and unafraid to speak up. On the whole, I think she may be the dominant partner.
LOL maybe JJ is crabby on TV shows as an outlet from not getting in a word at home!

Aspi said...

Something tells me meena is on to something here. Next UKU headline: Henpecked poet-husband locks horns with prickly Dance Director.

.m.a.n.o. said...

Lollz, I'd been waiting ffor your article on this-- and it really is worth the wait, lollzz XD
Btw, I wonder if you cud peek into the other new reality show, "Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar"? Toshi and Sumitra, along with other VOI, Indian Idol and Saregama favorties are there, as well as Reooprekha from Fame Gurukul. And the judges are Farah Khan, and none other than our own Vishal-Shekhar :) And the hostess? Mandira Bedi and her evergreen saris... One hell of a recipe to attract viewers, aint it? XD
Wud luv it if you cud do a review in ur style for that.

Cinderella said...

i dint watch the show but what's with this sudden crowd of sunken cheeks all around[shekhar suman,kareena and all]they look soo horrible!

fitness is something u gotta get over a period time....not in such a haste!on this i'm with salman khan,john abraham and even saif to an extent.they look fit and dont look starved at the same time!!

waisey i have to catch this show this week.seems to be some great entertainment:)

Pitu said...

Cinderella, I agree with you on that. While I have always been a Bebo fan (even the atrocious 'Main prem ki deewani hoon' couldn't shake my liking for her), I do think she's going to put on the pounds pretty soon. Her change just seems so drastic to me. And while she is gorgeous, she looks so much older. I thought her figure in Asoka was just perfect- she looked so alluring in that movie!

Lolo with her diet and exercise routine looks smashing without looking hungry...

Aspi said...

That Shekhar Suman reminds me of Nicholas Cage. Same bony look and bird's nest hair.

Mind Rush said...

I had never seen Toshi before so this was a treat for me. I will have to disagree with some Drifters on Shekhar Suman. I thought, rehearsed or not, some of his lines were quite quotable. Hi stiming is impeccable.

JJ disappointed...It's like he wants dancing to be all linear, symmetical and coordinated. From the mouth of a poet who prizes metaphors, it seemed unfathomable, and more like an ego battle.

But, sigh! JJ is human too. That's why I like Ms. Azmi. She's probably the only begum who can "tame" JJ. Remember the Koffee with Karan???

*~mad munky~* said...

i have no access to these channels anymore :o( *can only imagine*

sounds a blast though...

leera said...

Mad munkey, there's always apnicommunity.com that's how I feed my desi reality show cravings.

I thoroughly enjoyed UKU and forgive Shekhar Suman for his shiny golden cleavage and flock of seagulls hair. It was about time someone 'out-gyaaned' JJ!

I agree with the sunken cheek trend being ghastly and honestly Kareena is a hair away from looking posh spice hollow. And its kinda sad, because while I her acting always grated on my nerves, I liked that she had a nice curvy body and a confident self image. Saif on the other hand is starting to look quite pornstaresque with his Tashan mustache and over bulked top half.

Aspi said...

~mm~ I would expect that where you've gone desi TV shows would abound!

leera, I'm with you on Saif. There is something simmeringly sleazy about his look in Race. If he's smart - he's doing it deliberately to tweak his clean cut baby Murphy looks. Otherwise he needs to change chamchaas.

Sidekick said...

First off Aspi, the fond moniker of JJ was already in place when I found the drift - I just liked it enough to adopt it! Credit is defi due elsewhere ........

Second, I agree with anu g - it's been too long since we've had a reality show post. That was lots of fun - yr post and the super captions, not so much the show. I only watched the singing - both kiddies and adults and skipped over everything else, so i missed the bullfight argument. I don't have much patience for the dance or the comedy so i'll rely on yr witty roundup to fill me in. i found shekhar suman pretty annoying and i guess at some level i'm wondering what his expertise is --- at least JJ and Saroj Khan are or have been at the top of their respective games. although as others here have mentioned his outfit, hair and man cleavage do deliver some laughs.

i agree with megan on toshi --- his piya re, which is undoubtedly very polished seems nevertheless intended to showcase his impressive skills rather than to entertain. OTOH, Raja immersed as he is in his singing, delivers a much more moving and emotional performance. I love Raja's singing but I was ROTFL at the Raja Caption :)

i thought it was interesting that JJ tried to fight for his guys -- the II3 stars. He's been more than charitable to Emon who he savaged on II3. He also made a subtle dig at Raja and Toshi as jonar singers while characterizing Amit as an all rounder whose voice can make any jonar of song sound good. i totally don't see the Sumitra love on UKU. The word on JJWS on Sumitra seems much more reasonable.

For those looking for desi programs, apart from apnicommunity there is also iluvdesi
which is of pretty decent quality.

leera said...

'Simmeringly Sleazy' well put aspi, must remember that one.

anu g said...

Great news for Javed-fans. The promos for the Indian Idol auditionr are on....and Javed and Anu Malik r all set to take the stage.

Aspi said...

That is great news indeed. Just the other day the Drift Memsaab was asking about that.

Thanks for keeping us informed, anu g. Now SRGMP is on every two years right?

Sania said...

Been AWOL for a while, but more Indian Idol means I'll be around more - excited! Any idea where I can see the promos online?

Aspi said...

Hey Sania. Long time no see.

Go to youtube.com and type in Indian Idol 4. You'll hit a few of them.

leera said...

Yay! havent seen Mini Mathur since that short-lived stint with the hilarious Hemu on JDJ2.

Pitu said...

leera: He DOES look like pornstaresque! lol

priyani said...

yes megan my boobs are bigger than ur ass, and i am proud of them.

i did wear a bra but it broke.

minnie said...

javed akhtar was too arrogant and refused to give in and say that after all saroj khan and bindi are choreographers and so must know more than him at any rate...he just went on and on till he made a silly sight of himself..
and dont you think saroj khan gave shekhar a nice rap on his knuckles when he said bullshit..:)
i used to like toshi till the last time when instead of pure singing he was more concerned abt making an exhibition of his voice...yesterday in lagan lagi he mumbled some of the words and lost his pitch many times so much so that vineet , despite having the lesser voice sang the same song better than him ..not so good if you are in this position..
sumitra shrieked the house down with the rangeela song and harshit was a big bore with that song...himani was excellent..
and do u think rooprekha has a fan in the cameraman? he keeps focussing on her and i really dislike that girl who is an overrated singer and her comments on sumitra's singing the last time was the pits.
prajakta sings well and unfortunately she knows it...could do with a little raja demeanor, that girl..

Cinderella said...

sidekick,

Shekhar suman judges some laughter championship and he himself had a show a few years back,called Movers and Shakers.[which was supposed to be some stand up comedy types].maybe that's why he is on the show as the third judge.
He used to do a good Lalloo Prsad Yadav i think.don't remember anything more!

Cinderella said...

judged*

sneha said...

I wonder if any body here is watching jo jeeta wahi superstar. It is a similar show but with only singers and it has Vishal-Shekhar as judges ( one of whom seemed to be really popular here at one time)

Aspi said...

Hey no UKU this weekend? At least its not on my program guide. What gives? This is even more confusing than the rules of the show.

sneha, I did watch the show and I liked it quite a bit. Will work on a post soon.

minnie, I agree with your comments. Man, maybe you should be doing a JJWS post for us.

Priyani welcome. No abusing the poster girl :) But stop by and tell us what you think and while you are at it, can you not wear poufy lehengas, please?

anu g said...

Aspi, the UKU finals r on Sunday 8 pm IST.Thats what the ads say.

.m.a.n.o. said...

BTW, the drama on JJWS has already started :D and who better to start it with, than Vineet, who seems to have a huge following, and our own Toshi ;)
They've made Toshi look like a bechara, and Vineet like a complete fool. However, I'm not so sure if it is all staged- just well captured-- who would want to be known as an arrogant, stuck up, immature kid? :S Would Vineet really agree to that? :P
Here's the full report ;)
Both Toshi and Vineet wanted to sing the smae song-- and while practising, when both have done their own versions-- the guru asks Toshi to do it. Vineet, flustered at this point, asks the guru if he hasn't heard Toshi properly (!) and that toshi certainly made a mistake. He also says if Toshi sings better than him, then he'd leave sangeet and the show (!!). After a while and some arguing, he walks out :P
And yes, it was all captured and shown just before Toshi's performance-- so Toshi was under no pressure at all :P Vishal, in a fine dramatic moment (which he seems so fond of) asked Vinit to prove himself, which he did, after a stern telling off from Vishal about respecting gurus and not taking his statements lightly, specially ones about leaving music.
Farah then told both to kiss and make up, which they did, and all was well at end :D
But it has sparked a war of words between Toshi and Vinit fans :P

Anonymous said...

why don't you do a post on Jo Jeeta Wohi Super Star Aspi?

its a talent-show-musical-comedy-plus-VS-and-lots-of-singing-type show.

Himesh said...

This show will go to hell because I am not in it!People are bored of Vishal-Shekhar now and who wants to watch fat Farah?All the contestants also have been somewhere, nothing new.All will rot in hell.

Farah Khan said...

Himmesh, wait till you have kids you nasal whiner. We are just trying to prove on this show that we can get the kids to fight and create plenty of drama.

In other words, your USP is being replaced by kachha bachhas - your own demographic. How's that for irony?

Anu Malik said...

Farah, I saw you sitting between Vishal Shekhar the other day and preening with all the attention.

Does this mean you won't be picking me for your next movie?

AR Rahman said...

I saw this show the other day and I expected more. That's all.

Malz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Malz said...

hi aspi can we delete a comment after it is displayed here..

Malz said...

m thinking i shouldnt have put the winners names of UKU here as some people might want to watch it later and would like the suspense..but i dont know how to delete my comment..can u do that for me aspi..thanks

Aspi said...

malz, I've deleted the comment although I don't mind. I don't watch the shows for their nailbiting suspense anyway.

You can't delete a comment unless you are logged in to blogger. Just fyi.

Loy Mendoza said...

I have serious problems watching this show. Why can't they speak in English

Merrrraa Heendi good nahiiin haaaii

Whenever I need to compose music, Shankar and Ehsaan translate the lyrics to English then I can conceptualize the rhythm and the beats.

Anonymous said...

Yes, would be awesome if you could write abt JJWS.

We can have some side by side analysis.

Shiamak Davar said...

Loy I'm with you brother!

Muah, muah

Bappi said...

Ami conpiuz

Pritam said...

Hey y wer the JJWS partipants lifting my songs on a VS show

Suleiman said...

Pritam, be quiet! How can someone lift a tune that has already been lifted?

Salim said...

Right. What bhaiyya said!

RD Burman Ka Bhoot said...

They don't make music like they(I) used to.

Remixes should be banned and all DJ's should be banished to Eritea

Vishal said...

OK ENOUGH! All u motherfuckers can lick ur own asses!we rock and the show will be a success!all because of ME!im HOT and i kick ass.

Anu Malik said...

Deva re deva
Mein Farah se jhagda
Tujhe kaam mila

Vishal, tere show ka naam hona chahiye: Jo Jeeta Woh Best Reject.

Asha Bhonsle said...

Panchamda, was that you in the bathroom last night. You perv!

Stop whining about people remixing your stuff - I don't live cheap.