Friday, June 08, 2007

The competitive lives of boys and girls

Last week there was a moment on Indian Idol 3 that stopped me dead in my tracks. The girls who compete in the show were asked to pick someone from themselves to jettison. One by one, they were asked to hold up their choice scribbled on a piece of paper and explain their vote. And the girls of Indian Idol 3 dug into each other with a frenzy that belied their on-screen sweetness. “She’s too arrogant!”, “I’ve heard something about her!”, “She is too confident and annoying!”

Then, just before the vote-off, this was replayed for the entire audience. And it cut deep. There was shock, guilt, shame and tears. At least one girl hung her head down and looked like imploding. Indiscipline and saazish in the ranks! It is one of the singular triumphs of reality TV that it can deliver a moment rich in drama like this –one that can bring a lump to your throat but won’t matter to most people in a week.

Focus on the contestants
Idol 3 shares only a loose structure with that other musical reality show - Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. While SRGMP focuses primarily on the judges and the competition, Indian Idol builds its stories around the singers.

Early on Idol shows gave us glimpses of selected contestants in the audition round via montages: the contestant at home, hanging out with friends, doing alaaps with her guru, wearing a cap backwards and just being funky (I like to call this the “kya kool hai hum” clip). Later as auditions gained in intensity, we saw moments of high tension – tempers snapping, girls and boys circling and backstabbing each other, and my personal favorite – on demand fainting.

As the show moved into the piano round - and hence the studio – Idol showed us how the contestants prepared for their performances. We saw the girls and boys working hard and having a good time – with a carefully placed product from a sponsor close at hand.

An Enid Blyton fantasy
All of this struck me as very Enid Blyton-ish. There was a reason why her books were so popular and why series like Harry Potter continue to successfully dip into the same formula. It’s all about the back-slapping dudeness, the sisterhood, the togetherness, the competitive rivalries, the mess ups and the victories. Because Idol exploits this narrative, it keeps itself fresh – each week brings a new set of issues. After all how many Himesh Reshammiya jhagdas on SRGMP can one watch in a week?

Some problems
It’s not as if Idol 3 doesn’t have its problems. The presentation of each contestant often gets stuck in a rut. The show’s overdependence on Anu Malik is currently being highlighted by his absence. Shockingly bad singers seem to have infiltrated the show. And Javed Akhtar – sigh – deserves his own post.

But for now, life for Indian Idol 3 is good.


Anonymous said...

I love the Himesh the Ham jhagdas ;) SRGMP definitely has better singers than Indian Idol.

Unknown said...

I love thos jhagdas too! And you can tell if you read any of my SRGMP posts from before.

I hope they don't get old.

Anonymous said...

There are at least 3 good male singers and about 4 good female singers. But what makes a show entertaining is the "extra" stuff. I am surprised that they show has not tried to garner public interest by highlighting insinuations of romance between the participants. After all, in true Bollywood "ishtyle" stress, competition and dislike should lead to true "pyaar." Also, I am disappointed that the behind the scenes footage of the judges is shielded from the public. I would kill to see what they say when the cameras stop rolling.

Unknown said...

Mind Rush, good point: there are some YouTube videos I think that show some (potentially) budding romances between the contestents. But at the age these contestents are and with their parents watching - the grounds are unripe for seeding with pyaar.

Unknown said...

idian idol 3 is not a singing one is singing proper...and idian idol 1 and 2 was better and this prgm insulting the participants, one kind of discouraging ,,,and most of the candidate is too small the voice is not matured, no melody ,,dont know how the selection made...really its disguesting..pls take elder people to participate to this programe not only youngsters are singers ....

Unknown said...

Quite right sherlyn - not sure why so many people are younger this time on Indian Idol. Perhaps the auditions are not older-people friendly?

Anonymous said...

Hi Aspi,

Love your blog. I discovered it today and I guarantee -- I'll be back. Personally, I like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa more than Indian Idol-- as I think the people on Indian Idol can't sing very well. It's all about warring factions and the Personality Hits and Misses. That's what I reckon. But it keeps life interesting in the wintery weather of the country where I live.

All the best Aspi. I'll be back. Arnie couldn't have said it better himself.

Unknown said...

Thanks, IP! Glad to hear you'll be with us occassionally. I'm with on SRGMP - better sense usually prevails which is not what you can say for Idol.