Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009: Exit Shankar, Enter Hellboy

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.


ppl said...

Man,I have missed your SRGMP posts.The caps were a complete treat.
I knew Dhokla boy's 'serenity now' couldn't last long and and the cuckoo HR would emerge

Those betuki shayaris, pritam puran and asma skits would only filler for so long. Eventually, the meat and potatoes of the show, HR's abrasively retarded behavior would take center stage.

I still miss Pratibha and Debojit. But can't say Vaishali hasn't brought her A game in the last few weeks. Soumen needs to go home and now, Snoozeworthy to say the least.
Yashita is refreshing and original,wish she would buck upon the song selection,though the classical week didn't help.She's the Mussarat meets Mouli of the show and the only exciting performer left.

maxdavinci said...

Ah we're back to to the masala posts! too many interviews offlalte, and I almost forgot that this was the SRGMP fans HQ.

You hit the nail on the head with the Shankar gharana, he was the only one who kept everyone in check.

After Aadesh's khulasa on Vaishali's hubby tallking, himesbhai has now taken to 'har 24 ghante mein aadha ghanta'.

I thot we were looking fro a singing talent, never knew it was sponsored by some NGOs as well!

Unknown said...

max, this is one of my established problems: I don't know how to spread things around. But this blog teaches me a lot, so even that will be learned soon.

ppl, loved the description of HR's 'abrasively retarded behavior'. And also agree about Yashita. If she had been ousted last week, the show would have gone down the toilet with a plunger. Thankfully she is still around.

Anonymous said...

HEY, SRGMP reviews are back..and with a vengence!!! I LOVE!

I agree that Vaishali is too predictable...I mean she's an amazing singer but there is nothing refreshing about her voice. Whereas Yashita has that spunk to her voice and yes it works sometimes and sometimes it doesn't but once she figures out where it works, she'll be able to do a lot with it!! As far as Soumen goes, I kinda like long as he picks the right Jonar of songs!

btw Aspi, I love Himanshu's new nickname - Hellboy!! Fits like a glove!!

Joules said...

ha ha! You forgot to mention Himesh shutting Vaishali off twice when she was trying to say something after the Himesh/Aadesh ladai. I was curious to hear how she was going to defend herself.

I had liked Pratibha. Infact, she was the only consistent singer this year. I am suspecting the TRP's of the show maybe going down and this whole drama was created to get more eyeballs.

*~mad munky~* said...

I did wonder why the heck everyone was being so nice to each other!

I can't quite believe Soumen got as far as he it just my sensitive ears or does his voice have a strange grating texture to it? *covers ears*

musical said...

Haven't followed this season of SRGMP at all, but completely agree with what you said at the end of the post. Should i feel thankful that i didn't ;).

I have followed SRGMP only in bits and pieces, in general and didn't know that the "guru" had to leave once the mentees leave! Or was there any other reason for Shankar to leave. I know, i know, i am ignorant :-D. Please illuminate :-D.

Unknown said...

musical, if you aren't following the show, jumping in midstream might not be so much fun. So perhaps best to stay away :). The mentor has to leave when their gharana is emptied out. Its an odd quirk in this show - and it always makes me suspicious when each gharana almost always has at least one person left in the show till the very end.

Joules, I totally forgot that "Be quiet!" moment from Himesh. Thanks for reminding us!

~mm~ Soumen seems to be a great example of someone who can sing really well, but just doesn't have great voice quality. Vaishali has both but she strikes me as an outdated singer. There are plenty of these around who don't get much work - just look at Sadhna Sargam.

Anonymous said...


loved the post and agree with most points, except that to me, going off-key is almost criminally wrong in a professional singer...a singer *should* be able to tell which notes are out of his/her range, and pick songs appropriately...How do these contestants pick songs? Yashita has so far picked songs that were well within her vocal range, and suited her style. Why did she pick a song/raag so out of her range here? There are plenty of songs in "simpler" ragas, that she could have chosen, that might have suited her better...

As for Vaishali, I suspect she might find her niche in the Southern film industries - I hear many songs with her kinds of voice and her pronouciation can hardly be worse than Sadhana Sargam's!

Bitterlemons (living up her name today)

Anonymous said...

Don't know why I show up as ppl,when i log in with my gmail id ,but I like it. 'janata ki aawaz'.

Unknown said...

hey leera! I was wondering 'who is this ppl, seems to be smart as a whip with a penchant for describing things in SRGMP way better than anyone I know - except leera'

Bitterlemons, yes, yes, good points. But I really like Yashita and it clouds my judgement. I really want to see someone that Asha Bhonsle would have batted down in the early rounds to win it all!

Anonymous said...

Oh ya I almost forgot Yashita did escape the Asha bhonsle rounds. However she did impress Suresh Wadkar, and he's a relatively tough nut.

Vaishali has channelled Yashita and is trying her best to be jhakaas, but Pratibha's husky tones are sorely missed.Would love to see her soon in a SEL song. Their kajrare duet was awesome in the guru-shishya round.

musical said...

Aspi, thanks for the explanation.

Talking about Sadhana Sargam, i like her quite a bit, but wonder why she doesn't sing that often. Same for Alisha Chinai, whom i like even more (Tinka Tinka, Kajrare anyone). Looks like Sadhana prefers to stick to a certain type of songs, and Alisha has been made to restrict herself to a certain "jonar" (you know the sultry pop gana, usually, with few exceptions like the two above) ;). Thanks gg, how i could i forget "jonar": it is, after all, a SRGMP special :-D.

Unknown said...

Pratibha has a better chance of doing a bunch of shows for SEL. But as is the case with small town desi girls, they are afraid to go on the road with a bunch of unknowns.

With Sadhna Sargam, its all about image. She tends to sing certain types of songs. Increasingly if she's lucky, one out of 20 movies will have that type of a song. And then she competes for that one song with a bunch of other women.

With Alisha, not sure what happened. But I have some random theories: she was a bit distracted with her solo work (which was a bit of a bomb), she priced herself out of the Bollywood market, she just didn't network (or do live shows for composers) as much as she should have.

Anonymous said...

Sez Shake-Spear...
"Hell hath no fury like the Hellboy scorned."

Him-Mess is a classic Narcissist. He is sooo sensitive to real or imagined criticism. He flies off the handle and then uses drama to get his way.

He is so in need of therapy that I will treat him for free on a humanitarian grounds.

Anita Iyer said...


went thru ur post aboutZee saregama. i think u shod write one on Indian Idol as well, its 'obviously' completely scripted. my 6 yr old nephew has turned into a music show panelist thanks to indian idol. he rightly pointed that when Javed says sumthing good about a performance, malek has to point flaws and vice versa.. kudos to my nephew coz i saw that happening exactly on the show!

i think these reality shows should stop fooling the audiences wid their stupid acts.. i dnt think such fights guarantee TRPs any more as we have gone immune to it!!

Unknown said...

Anita, I'm doing an II post tomorrow.

I haven't watched enough to tell for sure about the judging - but I will watch out for it.

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