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.
- The 10-minute bull argument cracked Spruha up
- As it did anu g
- Pitu could watch this for Saroj
- megan's take on Shekhar Suman and the contestants
- How does Ms. Azmi take it, wonders Joules
- meena notes the battle of big words between Shekhar and Javed
- .m.a.n.o recommends Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar
- What's with this sunken cheek look? asks Cinderella
- Pitu on the difference between Bebo and Lolo
- Mind Rush is disappointed by Javed's lack of creative understanding
- ~mad munky~ can't watch - she doesn't have the channels after she moved
- leera enjoyed the shiny golden cleavage and flock of seagulls hair of Shekhar
- Sidekick makes a case for Raja over Toshi
- anu g announces that Indian Idol 4 is about to kick off
- Where can I find the promos? asks Sania
- Here and here
- Priyani compares anatomies
- minnie reviews the singing on Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar
- Cinderella recalls Shekhar Suman's past TV work
- sneha asks about JJWS (yes, a bunch of us seem to watch)