The hunt begins...

The hunt begins...

talent spotting Judges Salim Merchant, Sunidhi Chauhan and Anu Malek

This time, the show is seeking active help and participation from a number of its previous participants — those who have made it big in the music industry. Be it Abhijeet Sawant (winner of the first season), Chang (singer-turned-host-turned-actor) or Emon — they will all be seen promoting the show, on the sets and at various locations for the auditions.

The groundwork of auditions and identifying talent from across the country has already kicked off with this year’s judges — Sunidhi Chauhan, Salim Merchant, Anu Malek, who have the onus of hunting for a powerhouse of talent in music. Apparently, the response to this year’s auditions has been phenomenal. If rumours are to be believed, there were some 50,000 aspirants in the Delhi auditions alone!

So what is different in this season? Technically, quite a lot. Till now, ‘Indian Idol’ was the sole baby of Fremantle Media, and will now be jointly produced by Wizcraft. Informs S K (Raj) Barua, Managing Director of Fremantle, “India continues to be a popular destination for many of Fremantle Media’s internationally acclaimed formats and we are delighted to be launching our on-ground production operations in the country with ‘Indian Idol 5’, which is one of our biggest brands.”

So, will the new tie-up lead to any format change? Not really feels Namit Sharma, Business Head, Wizcraft Television. He says, “This year’s idol too will be expected to perform in front of a live audience, have the talent and confidence to become a good playback singer.” A change is the introduction of new faces hosting the show. Abhijeet Sawant and Prajakta Shukre — both famous celebrities from the first season have been roped in to do the job. Needless to say, both of them are very happy to return to the stage that gave them the toehold in the entertainment industry. Says Sawant, “For me it is nothing less than homecoming. I got all my fame and recognition from ‘Indian Idol’, so when I was offered the role of anchor, I was delighted.”

Prajakta, who became the heartthrob of many an Indian because of her cute looks and wonderful voice shares similar emotions, “I was elated to know that I will be sharing stage with Daddu (that is what she fondly calls Sawant). Having us as hosts will be a big change for the show, since this is the first time ‘Indian Idol’ will have hosts who are singers too. Till date, be it Hussain, Mini Mathur or Aman Verma – none of them were singers,” she says. Well, Chang was a singer and he did host last year’s contest, but Hussain (his counterpart) was not.

Sharma gives reasons for choosing these two singers as hosts. “Abhijeet Sawant is a natural choice. You think Indian Idol and his name comes to mind. Also, he has evolved and matured as a performer and singer in the last five years. To add to it, his stage presence is powerful. What makes him click is his confidence and humbleness,” he says. And Prajakta? “She is beautiful, charming,” Sharma explains. Both the new hosts feel that an added advantage is that they have been participants earlier. Therefore, the audience and contestants will be able to relate to them better.

On the promotions front, ‘Indian Idol 5’ is different this time as ex-Indian Idol contestants travelled to various cities across the country to promote the show. Deepali flagged off the show in Allahabad, Parleen in Chandigarh, Ankita in Udaipur, Amit Sana and Meenal Jain in Jabalpur, Chang in Nagpur and Emon in Hoogly. Apart from the symbolic flag off, they also gave away a few ‘jump-the-queue’ passes to select people, inviting them to the auditions. ‘Indian Idol’ is all set to start from April 26 on Sony Television.

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