Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ustaadon ka Ustaad: Grand Finale

There are some celebrities who have very interesting faces but whose hair needs some work (think: Ed Harris, Rosario Dawson). Others yet have great hair but less average faces (think: Kyle Mclachlan, Jennifer Aniston).

Shekhar Suman belongs to neither of these categories. But what he does have going for him is this punchy Hindi diction. He sounds like a Shakespearewalla. For every Urdu jab his co-judge Javed Akhtar can throw, Shekhar can counter with a heartland hook.

And while this held out a lot of promise for judge jhagdas on UKU, things didn't quite materialize as I expected them to. (Javed also looked under the weather).

Yet Shekhar was good judge presence - wearing a flowing Matrix robe, but in a bunny beige and with inexplicable Catwoman type buckles on the side, he was sharp enough and loopy enough to keep me entertained.

So who won? The children's competition went to Jayant. I have no idea if he deserved it, but boy that kid loves to sing and hogged all of the time that poor Vasundhara was given to sing a compensation ditty.

The dance competition went to Krushna and Kashmera. And while I happen to think Krushna is a fine and entertaining dancer, remember how Kashmera used to get slammed almost every time on Nach Baliye 3 before she began to realize she might just not cut the mustard? Well, she did nothing to enhance her reputation here, but a check is still a check (not to mention an amusing gift voucher that kept getting tacked on to the winner's check).

This saddened me: because there was another more deserving (Javed and Sandhya Mridul) and another more amusing (Shweta Salve and her strutting partner - some guy named after a cough drop).

The singing competition went to Raja Hasan. And here the dynamics were interesting. First Sumitra took herself out of the running by croaking to a halt in the middle of her song - the symbolic equivalent of impaling yourself on your mike. Amit Paul was not only out of his league but spliced together a horrific medley of songs. That left Toshi and Raja.

If there is one thing to be said about Toshi it is that he certainly likes what he does. On VoI, his copious improvisation - which often felt disruptive to the format of the competition - earned him some serious body slams from guest judges. But our man didn't change - and he was at it again in UKU. This time the body slam came from Javed Akthar. Since the winners' destiny was entirely in the hands of the judges, this spelt doom for Toshi.

To be fair Raja Hasan delivered two songs - the Kailash Kher sufi classic Teri Deewani and Pritam's grunge ballad Bheegi Bheegi from Gangster - in one terrific performance. He did a lot of jumping before picking up his decorative faucet, er, trophy. Ah yes, and we all got a glimpse of his wife - or as he called her "my jaana".



Anonymous said...

aspi, chuckled all the way thru the post, the fab captions and all the great links. i'm glad you've shed yr inhibitions abt links - love them all esp. the similarity of SS's side buckles to catwoman's :D

i find SS and his florid language funny for precisely 5 minutes and then his unbridled pomposity begins to weigh me down - weird unkil is right!. During the kiddie singing, JJ made a comment abt Vasundhara's voice needlessly trembling - something sonu nigam and suresh wadkar made frequent mention of during SRGMP-LC. Mr. Pomposity himself jumped on that comment and commended Vasundhara on her fine use of the vibrato technique, making it clear that while he was an expert in recognizing its merits JJ was an ignoramus in that regard --- one could see JJ rolling his eyes and pursing his lips while holding his peace.

I agree that Toshi is a man of conviction. He is determined to display his vocal pyrotechnics no matter what the advice on keeping it simple. Unfortunately, I think that won't work for him on JJWS.

While Raja's singing was first rate as usual, later he seemed like an amped up version of Tom Cruise on the Oprah Show couch! Also what is with these melodramatic biwis and their adoring declarations abt their miyaans' brilliance? First Padma Wadkar and now Raja's jaana.

Anonymous said...

I just finished watching the finale.. it was so entertaining..

I couldn't believe how Kashmira and her chubby man won the dancing round? seriously WTF? I liked the first couple Rajeshri and her man. They deserved to win.

Sandhya made Nimbooda dance so manly. She looked like she was in a battlefield.. This is what i envisioned


Anonymous said...

okay another link


Anonymous said...

i am so glad that Raja won.. he deserves it.. i never liked Sumitra and Toshi before but now i like them..

Amit sounded like a karoake bar singer in front of R and T.. what was up with JJ trying to make Amit look better by saying he has a "filmi voice".. and how classical singing has no place in Bollywood.. he made a fool out of himself with that statement sry2say

Raja's mrs, well i'm not gonna say anything about her because i will end up sounding shallow and superficial.. Raja was looking so QT

Unknown said...

Actually I didn't want to say it in the post - but I was maha pissed when they didn't show more of Raja's wife swooning on stage.

Come on! I know she's nice and not part of this circus, but this is my entertainment we're talking about here.

Unknown said...

megan, u are right about Sandhya (and great pic BTW). She's aggressive - but she's also an overachiever so she does everything well. And then because her partner is fabulous, she tends to look much better.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely hated the way Smug Suman gave out the name of the winning kid. He drew it out enough to cause maximun anxiety and distress to all three kids. One could see SK and JJ exchanging wtf looks. In contrast, (as a reaction against this), Saroj just marched out and declared the winner of the dance comp very abruptly and with no build up.

Mind Rush suggested long ago that the kids (although they talk like no kid I know) should not be standing by themselves during the elimination announcements, they should be with at least one parent. but I guess that doesnt make for good drama :-)

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

Haha gr8 review, aspi! I thought Toshi was at his worst on the final, sadly, for his fans (including me:( )
It just wasn't his day (it hasn't been his day since the last JJWS episode :P) and his voice cracked a lot and sounded too strained at times. I hope his good times start soon... But atleast he got the slam from JJ (comprising of many things others have been exasperately pointing out for ages)-- Something I hope he acts on positively, and actually listens to what he said to him. We all know, it will turn out for the better of Toshi.
Here's wishing you the best Toshi!
And congrats to Raja... he deserved it, on the show.

Anonymous said...

meena, these kids are quite use to it. We can't even imagine the number of rounds of auditioning they go through. And the build up for who qualifies is almost the same for every round.

My niece a few years ago had auditioned for SRGMP lil champs from Delhi. She went through three rounds and then was rejected (she was'nt very good but is a very pretty girl with great personality). I took her to one of them (highly disorganized, parents being pushy everywhere). In a way was happy that she did'nt move up the ladder :). But even these three rounds were so prelim that there were 800 kids by the time it was the third round.

Unknown said...

Joules, the next time you encounter any of these reality shows from so up close, we want to hear about it immediately! Curiosity overwhelms.

Anonymous said...

joules, just the thought of pushy, competitive desi parents all converging at one place makes me shudder.

I hope India is well stocked with therapists and counselors because in a few years some kids will need them ;).

Anonymous said...

meena, I know its not even funny. My niece had no high hopes but she has no stage fright, so went up there for some fun. Some of these kids came with their mother, nanny and guruji in tow with their own harmonium and/or a tabla.

Infact the blind kid from last SRGMP lil champs had auditioned at that time. He sang quite beautifully but sang an extremely sad song (old movie, probably a mukesh song) and the audience was in tears by the time he finished.

Aspi, the only thing I remember is that we were there for four hours. After a lot of confusion they divided all the kids in groups based on age and started with the younger kids. There would be two good singers every hour so you can imagine the torture. No body famous showed up. Some local artiste from doordarshan were judging the show.

Anonymous said...

Joules, a fascinating look at what goes into putting together these reality shows that we've become addicted to :). Also, Meena I don't think there is any escaping the uber competitive desi parents that crave overachieving kids. Not sure if others here have seen Spellbound - it is a documentary about following 8 contestants thru the Spellling Bee. There are 2 desi contestants feaured, one a gult one whose dad cracks me up. If you like documentaries, a great look at the desi parent mindset :)

Anonymous said...

First off, those kids look like they are 6 or 7 but they are actually 12 years old or so....that explains their annoying precocious-ness. They are just a little shorter than NRI kids and they are made to wear atrocious clothes--sometimes too baby like and other times too grown up.

Anyway, looooved the post, Aspi. I was ROFL. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I must be living under a a rock. I did not know Raja was even married.

And---like Megan, I am hesitating to say this, but heck, I don't care! I AM shallow!

So when he hugged this lady in the audience, I was thinking that his mother looked like she'd had a makeover. 'Enuff said...

Anonymous said...

i hate desi parents and their expectations..
mom and sister were watchign OSO this afternoon when i came home.. and mom was like how deepika is so stunning because of the packaging etc..

then she was all " imagine if (my cousins' names) somehow were in Bollywood and they were made to act in a movie like this, they will be termed as the new Aishwarya"

i thought that was rly offensive and mean of her.. I mean she's got 2 girls in her own effin family.. we're not any less attractive than my cousins.. in fact when we go out i get more looks than them.. they're so NOT all that.. WTF?

Anonymous said...

i never really noticed Kyle Mclachlan's hair.. I mean whats so special about it? Just a mop?

api you is one weird guy

Unknown said...

I'm weird that I will admit. But there have been movies in which Kyle Mclachlan's hair has done the majority of the acting.

This desi sensitivity around how their kids are doing is universal. The times are many when I'll be around desi parents and I bring up seemingly innocent topics like Motorsandal's progress on the guitar or Youngling's ability to get away with murder and BOOM! I'll have to hear all about someone's else's kids' prowess in the same areas.

Anonymous said...

But that's hardly restricted to kids. Every party I go to, it's all about one-upmanship! My stocks are doing better than yours, my career is doing better, my brother's blah blah is so much better etc, my sis teaches at Yale. It's just the desi mentality. After all, it's fun to see how insecure people are. I just smile and nod :-p

Anonymous said...

Sidekick, that documentary sounds interesting. Will try to watch it. I've seen a few of these spelling bee finals and invariably there are a few desi kids in the top ten with the anxious parents hanging on every word and a younger sibling speller-in-training being made to watch it:-)

Meg, My close friend's teenage daughter assures me that its the same with all her desi friends. First question their moms ask when they bring their grades home - what grade did your friends get ;)

Unknown said...

Quite true, Pitu. I met precisely one person while growing up who knew exactly how good he was without having to compare himself to others. Everyone else would run around trying to figure out how well someone else was doing so they could use that as a measure.

The latter category used to include me - although I've grown up a lot of late.

Unknown said...

I forgot to mention: I added spellbound to my queue. I love docus that take a closer look at the lives of kids. Its tough to pull off without sounding condescending but it can be done.

I also have My Kid Could Paint That lined up as well.

Speaking of kids, did anyone read about Lenore's highly controversial kid experiment on her blog? Its a benign experiment as a data point, but the surrounding discussion is absorbing.

Anonymous said...

Spellbound is one documentary we rly enjoyed watching! The Gujju boy with the yoga-espousing, prayer-mumbling, Guru-worshipping, coach-hiring parents is funny. After watching the doc, I rly wished I had gotten a chance to participate in bees as a youngster :-(

Anonymous said...

Desis have a strange obsession with looks. I find caucasians have a similar obsession with their body shape and skin (wrinkles).

Most desi aunty types always like to compare everyone to some indian actress or the other. I have heard (esha which I hate), rani (which is still some what ok), Preity (which is usually when I am wearing western clothes), Neha Dhupia (as I have somewhat of a longish face) and I dont even come close to resembling any of these actresses.

It use to annoy me earlier. I look forward to it now in an amusing sort of way(as long as its not tuntun)

Anonymous said...

Joules, as long as you have never been compared to Mandakini (which I have!!!!!!!!), consider yourself lucky :-)

Anonymous said...

no point discussing about parents' mentality..they don't change.they always want their kid to be the best come what may which is highly impossible.
heard these days their IIT entrance coaching is starting from 6th standard itself!!!!!i pity those kids who are being forced to lose the most wonderful part of their whole life..very sad... even education has become commercialised!! DUH!
anyway i go off track if i get started on it....

Anonymous said...

and Raja's perfomance was amazing!!! it was soo good to see him singing after a loong time.i just tuned in to seee his performance and saw no more than that.glad he won!

i was watching Dhoom macha de instead..it was good fun watching Karan Johar and Richa Sharma..and malaika arora seemed sooooooo uncomfortable in the sari....seemed like she's just not used to it!and Prasoon Joshi looked soo geeky!!!so typical poet types with that scholarly look and all!!hehe

Unknown said...

Joules what a great observation about physical obsessions. I am now going to filter my observations through that lens to see if it works :)

IIT coaching from Std 6? Bhais ki poonch!

I wish I could watch Dhoom Macha De on TV. But I can't. Here is where you would think NDTV could strike a partnership with CBS Interactive, use their Hulu and put hi-res episodes of their best shows on the Internet to increase their audience reach.

Actually its a terrible business proposal but I'm hoping they do it anyway :)

Anonymous said...

joules, strange obsession with looks? I would say strange obsession with skin color. Especially in the south, ye gods.
time and again I have seen girls with great big eyes and beautiful bone structures tagged lower than some flat faced girl who happens to be a couple of shades lighter.

...sorry.. pet peeve.

Anonymous said...

I am nodding vigorously in this discussion on skin color, competitiveness, kids' performance, etc. etc.

My hope is that Megan and the younger generation will raise their kids differently.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I am surprised by the lack of discussion here re: The Wife that we saw at the Finale.

Please, some more amusing comments???

Anonymous said...

I missed the finals. So please update me on the wifey.

Unknown said...

Joules you can watch this video on YouTube starting 5:40. But the gist of it is: Raja ushered his wife on stage and I think Mind Rush is referring to the fact that Ms. Hasan was an unlikely candidate for wife in this case. But you can see for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for providing the link Aspi.. I was shocked when the lady was revealed to be his wife. I thought she was his Mummyji!! Nevertheless, the hug and her tearful 'icchha' that 'wo aur aage badhe' was definitely an Aww moment for me :-)

Anonymous said...

Awwww, that is cute. Not everyone has to be picture perfect.

Thanks for the link, Aspi.

Anonymous said...

Or fit in the picture ;-)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

All i can say is Raja's soulful- romantic long haired image took a serious hit when his wife came on stage.
for one stunned uncomprehending moment we all thought mom, sister?..no....jaana!

However, he did do a Tom Cruise for her and she bawled all over him.

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, when I saw the mini checks I was like, 'What the heck is Greenply?"
(To those that did not watch the finale---all winners got a 1 Lakh gift voucer for Greenply products.)
So what does that company make?
Green backs?
Herbal Cosmetics?
Recycling bins?
No, no and no.
I went to their website and wish to share my discovery with the Drifters:
Quoting website.."Greenply Industries Limited (GIL), a Rs. 470 crore, dynamic, professionally managed, Interior Infrastructure Company, a leader in the plywood and laminate industry in India. Greenply accounts for 25 per cent of its organized plywood and 15 percent of its organized laminate market."

Party on, UKU winners!

Unknown said...
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