Boy, who knew that Shankar Mahadevan had been holding it all together on SRGMP.
But we found out soon enough: when the surprising exit of class topper Pratibha Baghel resulted in the departure of her guru Shankar, it took just one weekend for all hell to break loose. And who else played Hellboy but Himesh Reshammiya!
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
First, let me praise the producers of SRGMP for their comic homage to one of the greatest movies of our times.
Early on in the show, Head introduced the SRGMP trophy. As the camera trained its lens on the object, we were regaled with the theme from Star Wars. Wow, I thought to myself: how loopy! But I saw the connection as soon as I laid eyes on the trophy - which clearly looked like it had been designed by some artist at ILM over at Skywalker Ranch. Once I understood this clever reference, I could not stop admiring how sharp SRGMP had become as a show within a show.
More was to come because you could sense judge Aadesh Srivastava straining at the leash over frustration with Himesh. For long now Aadesh has been taunting Himesh with a straight face. First it was a reference to Himesh's Chanakyagiri. Then when Head announced Vaishali as a previous winner (she is the SRGMP Marathi champion), Aadesh pounced on Himesh via his mentee Vaishali.
"Hey, even (my chela) Soumen is a previous winner!" Aadesh protested. More goody two shoes posturing as he proceeded to jab Himesh in a few (soft) places with some choice remarks directed at Vaishali about "playing politics".
This was all getting way too delicious. How long before Hellboy answered the pukaar, I thought to myself and made myself a huge pot of chai in anticipation of digging in my heels for a long and boisterous ride.
It didn't take long. At one point Aadesh accused Himesh of using Vaishali's sad sack back story for audience sympathy. Now, Hellboy exploded. He grabbed the mike and somewhat inexplicably went after Aadesh and Pritam both. This startled Pritam no end. "What'd I say?!" he pleaded. "When!?" Hilarity!
Undeterred Himesh took both of them to task. "What have I done wrong by highlighting someone's tough ride to fame?" Himesh asked no one in particular. "If I have done wrong by talking about someone's insaaniyat, let the audience not vote for my pillu" he declared.
Tempers flared. Aadesh started having a tough time keeping that indulgent smile plastered on his face. Everyone gave up and walked off.
At this point a narrator showed up and summarized events for us in an ominous AajTak type voiceover. Clearly this was a searing satire of the sensationalism that our news channels have descended into.
Pritam and Aadesh locked themselves into Hellboy's room. I would have paid good money for a camera in there - but the producers were shut out. All three emerged later and the show continued. "3 Hours Later" SRGMP announced via captions.
On to the singing: the only thing worth mentioning as far as I am concerned is the recent meltdown of Yashita Sharma.
On an upward arc to win the show and establish herself in the industry, Yashita faltered badly (watch 5m into this vid) in the Kavi Sammelan episode in which Jagjit Singh and Hariprasad Chaurasia showed up with the expectation that everyone would sing in some classical raaga. Jagjit (rightfully) chided her for being full of shortcomings. In her second performance, she virtually imploded. Robbed of significant confidence, Yashita couldn't seem to hold a high note to save her life even last week.
Has Yashita lost the title already? This would be unfair for several reasons. Primary among them is that a good singer is a matter of definition (take a bow, Himesh for making this point repeatedly on SRGMP). What a Hindustani classical singer should be able to sing doesn't apply to an R&B singer, for instance.
And the changing rules of music in Bollywood is giving rise to the need for a particular type of singer: one who is versatile in the mid range and brings spunk and verve to a song. Yashita is that singer. For that, at the very least, she deserves to finish on top.