'Indian Idol 5' looking for playback voice not star quality

The music reality show, in its fifth year, is back to basics this time as it searches for the perfect playback singing voice. 'Indian Idol 5' judges Anu Malik, Sunidhi Chauhan and Salim Merchant, all well known names in the music industry, are scouting for "a voice that touches million hearts" which might not necessarily have a star quality.

Sunidhi, who will also debut on the small screen with the show said that she is looking for excellence in voice, one that can sing anything from 'Ghazhal' to 'Rock' on the show which will be telecast on Sony Entertainment Television from April 26. "Our focus this time is to find perfect playback voice. People have been complaining that in the process of finding a complete package, we sometimes have neglected that unique voice. So this time we are looking for a competent singer," Sunidhi told reporters.

The winners of the last seasons like, Abhijeet Sawant, Sandeep Acharya, Prashant Tamang, Sourabhee Debbarma went through a total makeover from tip to toe, with designer clothes and funky hairstyles but this time not much attention will be given to the grooming.

"This time grooming will not be a major part of the show. First the contestant should be an extraordinary singer then we'll see how he/she can be groomed," Sunidhi, 26, said. "We have a blind singer this time, who sings so well that we did not even notice her personality. And I am sure she will go further. She'll be requiring a lot of hard work but this time we will support her till the end," she added.

The shift in the focus can be traced in the popularity level of past winners. They may have had their private albums coming but then the looming question is what next? And there can't be a bigger platform then Bollywood playback singing which is a more secure career. Sunidhi's co-judge at the show, Salim of the famous Salim-Suleiman music composer duo, could not agree less.

Salim feels that Bollywood singers today have a global appeal which makes it a perfect option for the budding artistes. "If you see, we really don't have a music industry here. We majorly have Bollywood music and it is becoming huge day-by-day. Look at A R Rahman after 'Slumdog Millionaire'. Musicians from different countries want to collaborate with us. So why not find a extraordinary playback singer who can have the best of both worlds," said Salim, who is judging a reality show for the first time.

"Moreover, the good part is that we are having a lot of experimentation in film music these days giving singers more opportunities to be versatile," he added. The show bosses are claiming that they have received about one lakh applications this time from big metros to small towns and the judges have already shortlisted 17 out of them who will be presented to the viewers.

However, this time, apart from people's vote, judges verdict will also play major part. "This time our opinion will be collaborated with the people's vote and then only we'll come to final conclusion about a contestant. Many a times it has happened that a deserving candidate could not garner enough vote and was finally chucked. That would not happen this time," Salim said.

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