Talent hunt

Talent hunt

telly talk

Talent hunt

If Sa Re Ga Ma Pa was the first popular musical talent hunt show on Indian television, which gave the music industry singers like Shreya Ghoshal and Kunal Ganjawala, it was Indian Idol that took talent hunt shows to the next level, churning out performers and entertainers who’ve made a mark.

The popular show, which introduced audience voting in reality shows, is back with a bang after a year’s hiatus. Those involved with the popular international format say that this year’s Indian Idol will be better than all that we have seen earlier.

The first steps of change were visible in the audition rounds. This time around, Indian Idol hasn’t restricted its auditions to cities, it has also conducted auditions online. Participants were encouraged to submit their clippings online and the jury, comprising Anu Malik, Sunidhi Chauhan and Salim Merchant, decided on good singers. This was done to help singers who couldn’t make it to the auditions.

The second, and perhaps the bigger, change, is the presence of living legend Asha Bhonsle as a special judge on the show.

Though Asha was earlier seen in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa as a judge, she had expressed her desire to keep away from judging reality shows. So what brings her back? “I used to be a guru in a reality show, but I used to feel very bad whenever there was an elimination. But with Indian Idol, being one of the biggest shows around, the format appealed to me,” says the singer whose mere presence on the sets is likely to make the atmosphere electrifying.

Indian Idol has always looked out for the X-factor in participants, which has been evident in the fact that most of its finalists (Rahul Vaidya, Chang, Karunya) and winners (Abhijit Sawant) have become very famous stage performers and have even acted in films.

What will Asha Bhonsle be looking out for? The singer thinks for a few seconds and replies, “For me, the first and most important thing is sur. It has to be right. Then comes the language and then comes the beat. I just cannot handle besura singers.”

So does it mean a change in criteria in Indian Idol? Salim Merchant, one of the judges, offers, “I don’t think we will watch the performances keeping in mind good looks. The standard for this season is much higher than the earlier ones.”

The ever-unpredictable Anu Malik adds, “Our focus is voice quality. We are looking for someone who has a unique voice — something that is their own and not a copy of existing singers.”

The search has already begun and the three judges, it seems, have already travelled to 21 cities, hunting for talent all over the nation. Says Sunidhi Chauhan, “The hunt for the right voice was difficult as there were so many talented people. It was interesting to see how the contestants had come fully prepared for their auditions.”

Whether they will succeed in finding a good voice or not is something only time can tell, but one must admit that Indian Idol has thrown up better performers than singers. If Sa Re Ga Ma Pa focused purely on the participants’ singing abilities, performance was the key in Indian Idol.

This year, it looks like Asha Bhonsle’s presence is going to usher in change. Whatever the case, the entertainment value of Indian Idol seems to remain intact.  Guess there is something in the show that makes everyone go gaga over it every year. This year is no different.

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