Friday, February 20, 2009

Is Indian Idol Season 4 the year of the voter mutiny?

Something happened last week on II4 - which was just hitting its stride mind you - that stopped everyone dead in their tracks. The last singer who could hold a tune without losing sur or occasionally issuing a croak, Rajdeep Chatterjee, bit the dust. Eliminated!

All of this came as a bit of a shock. Why? Two reasons. First: Rajdeep had been a judge favorite throughout the season. And for good measure. He has a pleasing if somewhat stiff personality. And he could sing better than anyone else on the show. Second: the hot favorite for elimination last week was Torsha Sarkar, possessor of a fine voice but also a highly nervous personality that led to numerous shaky performances. Just the previous week she had rendered a version of "Laila Mien Laila" so horrifically out of tune (3:30 in this vid) that it sounded like the opening bars of an alley cat symphony.

More horrors! One after one fellow contestants Kapil Thappa and then Sourabhee were ushered into the safe zone. And when the final name was read, Torsha jumped up for joy and that smile on Rajdeep's face - well it looked more frozen than a Slurpee.

So why did Indian Idol 4 lose all its good singers? To that question you might say: dude, you are missing the point. II4 has never been about good singers. Its been about decent enough singers who could be good. And to that I'll say: fair enough. But its still a singing competition - and you can only get so far unless you have a good set of pipes on you.

Let's zero in on the judges shall we? II4 has four of them: Anu Malik, Javed Akhtar, Kailash Kher and Sonali Behl. Anu and Javed are the card carrying members. The other two are temps - or at least in their first season. Both Anu and Javed bring tons of experience with them. This makes them ideal judges. But they are also - how to say this politely - professorial. Which is perfectly ok until we get to the root issue.

All season long, Indian Idol 4 has resembled a classroom. Students come in, take a test (i.e. perform) and then the teachers have a go at them. Like all teachers the II4 judges also seem have students they love and who can do no wrong and students who they hate and who can do no right.

What used to happen to teachers' pets? Most people in class disliked them - I remember issuing mock gags whenever a teacher used to issue a radiant smile at her favorite just for showing up. And what about teachers' whipping boys? I found myself rooting for them.

Rajdeep was the teacher's pet on II4. Sure he sang well, but even on occassions that he issued thanda performances the judges genuflected in his presence.

On the other side of the fence, an early season disagreement with Javed Akhtar landed Kapil Thappa in the hot zone. The judges played gilli danda with the poor guys emotions - berating for him for acceptable performances. At one point this got to be so silly that the charming train wreck of the season - Remo Ghosh - would molest a song and get green lights all over the place. Kapil would come in and do a decent job and he'd be staring down the barrell of a gun.

This kind of judge contestant dynamic existed in the previous season as well. But it was offset by the fact that the judges often got into fights - thus dispelling the notion that they were adults for long enough to not let the Classroom of Doom fiza to settle in. This year the regal Sonali Behl seems to have had a calming effect on everyone, inadvertantly issuing the show a disservice because now the judges don't appear so juvenile.

Add the fact that Anu has been getting petulant with the voting audience. Often he's lost his temper at the voting junta for not dispensing their duties correctly and not understanding music and sur. This often ended up looking like (a) he was digging into the viewers for not agreeing with him and (b) he was a teacher who played favorites with one student and looked down on the rest of the school! You could just feel the voting audience squirming in their seats.

If judging the man rather than the performance is the fastest way to lose credibility with the audience, disrespecting them is the fastest way to establish battle lines. As far as phaltu Drift theories go - mine is that the way the judges positioned themselves this year did poor Rajdeep in.

The audience voted for Kapil because the guy came out with full confidence, sang his heart out and just swallowed hard when the judges called him bhulla bura. They voted for Sourabhee because she is this year's  Indian Idol. They voted for Torsha because they didn't empathize enough with Rajdeep (after all, didn't he already have the judges on his side?).

None of this bugs or bothers me. The entertainment quotient of Indian Idol 4 has steadily gone up with the season, thanks to the hosts and ironically enough the judges themselves. Its poised to deliver a fine finale. Entertainment, rather than delivering a genuine breakout star, may well be Indian Idol's destiny.


Anonymous said...

Great writeup.
BTW just saw Delhi 6 and lo and behold who else is in it - our Anu Malik and JA.
Sonam is a wanabe II contestant.
Great Movie minus masala. Rakesh Mehra did it again and RDB was not a fluke.
It may not do well in India but overall a great movie.
Aspi Please expand your spehere of influence beyond bollywood. Would love to read about interview of Kate Winslet.

Sonam is adorable.

Good Luck

Anonymous said...

Rajdeep was so average, oh please the judges deserved to be slapped with a wet trout for overhyping average karoake singers.. Bhavya was another overhyped twit!

I hate sonali, she couldn't even do well in her chosen field, she had no decent acting career to speak of herself, everytime she opened her annoying mouth i felt like throwing the TV out the window.. what does she know anyway? she just summarized what everyone else said and added her trademark biased views and annoyed the beejeezus out of everyone.. DIAF!

what is up with kailash's Hindi?? WTF??? go get some testosterone before appearing on TV next

Javed A is biased and full of himself.. his wife was also a judge on some other show (i forgot which) and she was biased and annoying just the same... i hate pseudo intelligent pretentious people.. loudmouth anu malik is more tolorable..

everytime they announced rimo or kapil or other step children of the show safe, Sonali and javed would make this annoying slappable faces.. eww

i think celebs shouldn't agree to be judges on reality shows, it shows their true self..

i want Kapil to win, the judges are so harsh on him, he isn't even that much worse than their angelic Rajdeep or Bhavya or other overhyped singers..

Anonymous said...

I don't really follow II, but isn't that the same logic to the AI too. Atleast in II you cannot be called a Slumdog on the show, in AI Anoop Desia was called dog on the show, which however well but is still insulting.

maxdavinci said...

@meg: whoa! that was something....

@aspi: Idol has gone to dogs, for the third time in a row they are going to dish out a thanda singer. Sandeep Acharya, Prashant Tamang and now Sourabhee is my guess.

Chalo atleast they are going to get a female winner. Have to compete with SRGMP you see...

Anonymous said...

Drift saab, a worthy write up but where is the mention of your crush Bipasha Madam???

Great comic art, BTW.

Mind Rush predicts...Next season we will see Rajdeep and Chang be the hosts to a rockin' Indian Idol.

Unknown said...

Meg, enjoyed that!

AFan, I saw some youtube vids of Sonam auditioning in II and couldn't quite figure that out. Thanks for the update. I will work on expanding my sphere beyond Bollywood - but I just don't have the useless knowledge to back it up. So it'll be hard.

max, yes, but if II can deliver breakout stars in some area or the other even if they are not winners - they will end up as an influential show. In that regard they seem to be doing very well.

Mind Rush, of course I remember. But this time words failed me. Heart. Heart.

Anonymous said...

That last line above....hmmm...

Unknown said...

Memsaab, you are a combination of Bips AND Keira Knightley.

Anonymous said...

Aspi, great write up. I agree with your thesis regarding Rajdeep's elimination. I believe Bhavya was a victim of the teacher's pet syndrome (TPS) too. Her blatant sucking up to the judges didn't help either. All this should have been obvious to her when she would consistently find herself in the bottom 2 or 3. I am surprised the judges don't seem to realize the effect of their favortism on their, ahem, favorite contestents.

Meg, you are funny (esp. regarding Kher; perhaps he is seeking a career in opera as a castrati?).

-- Texan

Pitu said...

Omg I do not follow this show (seriously, it's teh suck) but I clicked on your Torsha link to see the 'Laila' song. YIKES!!!!!!!!!! I SWEAR my cat is more melodious when she gets vaccinated by the vet! How do people like this Torsha even get to compete??

*shakes head at the absolute lack of talent*

sonam_mcrgurl said...

C'mon Aspi, have you not been enchanted by Torsha's voice? She did screw up some preformances, but there's no denying the magic in her voice. she just doesn't have that charisma and is a bit of an awkward girl.

I agree with you about Kapil. Even when he gives good performances, the judges still look down on him.

Sourabhee is a good singer and a great performer. Rajdeep is a great singer and a decent performer.

I say the competition is between SOURABHE & TORSHA. INDIAN IDOL IS GONNA BE A GIRL!!!!

Unknown said...

princess - so Torsha could become like a Dido. Someone who coos through all the songs and just has a great voice, but basically can't sing :)

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