Last week on the new season of SRGMP, judge Sajid commented on a crackerjack singing performance thusly: "Full power! No breakfast, no shower!" This absolutely did not make any sense at all. It sums up why I like SRGMP so much - great singing accompanied by all kinds of loopiness.
As a true singing competition SRGMP is head and shoulders above its competition - the highly rated Indian Idol. Most SRGMP singers could sing Indian Idol hopefuls under the table. SRGMP is able to do this because they focus on music as opposed to ratings. They won't think twice before having contestants hug a peti and sing ghazals week after week when they could be banging out a popular Pritam rock ballad instead. This year, a contestant called Mohammed Aman from Rajasthan sings Indian ragas weekly. You'd think it would bore everyone to tears (and audiences do vote Aman lower than his less accomplished competitors) but its downright scintillating to watch and listen to.
For example, Vishwajeet Borwankar sings raaga-pop. Jazim Sharma sings ghazals. Shehnaz Akhtar sings dreamy ballads. Zain Ali sings boisterous Punjabi songs, Jasraj Joshi reinterprets songs of high drama. Before they were eliminated last week, Padmanav used to Luther Vandrossify Indian songs and Kunal Pandit deadpanned his way through beautiful classically tinged songs.
Javed Ali, who possesses a golden set of pipes himself and is riding a red hot career in playback singing, hosts the show. SRGMP seems to prefer subdued hosts and Javed is right up their alley. Often stiff and sometimes prone to sounding like he's making an All India Radio announcement, Javed radiates positive energy and goodness. And when he sings, boy, it sounds like you are at Heaven's Gate.
For all its high singing standard highjinks, SRGMP is not without fault. For one, the judges constantly play coy when it comes to giving points. Most of the time they appear to be judging the situation rather than the performance. This lends a somewhat nonsensical air to the points handed out after each song. Secondly, SRGMP's format is decidedly stale. There's the intro, the guests walk in, everyone genuflects, singer sings, gets judged, walks back, repeat. There's no Himesh Reshammiya to raise everyone's hackles. There isn't any Vishal Shekhar types to shake things up. SRGMP doesn't even do those unintentionally funny quick profiles on its contestants.
The only real fun happens when stars walk in as part of movie promos and try their best to raise the entertainment quotient of the show. Shahrukh was super entertaining when he came to shill for Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Just as entertaining was watching Katrina looking decidedly uncomfortable and trying to decide if Anushka Sharma got that rumored lip job.