Friday, December 26, 2008

Girls are making girls lose: Shini

Simple and sweet bahus maybe the rage on Indian soap operas, but the same cannot be said about their counterparts on reality shows. Shini, the third girl to be eliminated in quick succession from Indian Idol, feels her bahu image worked against her. “Maybe because the people identified with me as a married woman, they were not very keen to vote for me,” she said. “Also, as a bahu, there was a limit to what I could do on stage and what I could wear.”

We caught up with Shini soon after her elimination to find out what she thought about the voting system, about Sonali’s tears and about Annu Malek’s surprise offer.

Are you angry that a girl has been eliminated yet again on Indian Idol?

It was another shocking result round. I’m very upset that the girls are not getting the support they deserve. I know Indians appreciate music and they can differentiate between a good singer and a bad, but I feel something somewhere is missing and as a result the girls are losing out.

First it was Ananya, now it’s me. After all the trials and tribulations I had to suffer, after all the hard work that I put in, I feel everything is bekaar now. My dreams were very big. I wanted to be crowned Indian Idol. I mean, it is the first time that a married girl has reached so far in any reality show, and coupled with my strong performances, I thought there was all likelihood of me getting to the top. And then this happened.

Do you have anything to say about the voting system?

The girls are making us girls lose. All the female viewers are only voting for the boys. They are not bothered about any of us on the show, though we might be singing better than the boys. According to me, all the remaining girls have the talent to make it to the Top 5. But the girls out there will not help the contestants get there.

But something good did come out of it all. Annu Malek promised he will work with you in the future.

Yes, it is a huge opportunity for me. Not everyone who has been eliminated has been offered such a great opportunity like I have been. Annuji has promised me that he will work with me soon and that he will get Kailashji to sing with me on a song that will be written by Javedji. That is like the wildest of my wildest dreams coming true. Maybe I would not have got such a great offer even if I had won the title. So, in a way, I think I am lucky, too.

Do you think your spat with Bhanu could have led to this elimination

I don’t know. I don’t think so. That was a very difficult time for me. I feel now that I should not have reacted to whatever he said because once I spoke up about it, it spiralled out of my control.

Initially, everyone was on my side. Then, suddenly, they all began siding with Bhanu and I, who had said the truth, was isolated. I felt like I had accidentally come onto a fighting show and not a singing show. After all the tension, I was so upset that I could not concentrate on anything, not even my singing. I couldn’t prepare myself to give my best as I always did. And I regret that a lot.

Your grandmother being sick must have also added to your tension. How is she feeling now?

Yes, it was a very strenuous time for me. Not only did I have to put up with the furore over Bhanu, but I was also very worried about my grandmother. I even went to Gwalior to check up on her.

She is feeling much better now and my entire family is rooting for me. I am blessed to have the best wishes of my family and my in laws.

Sonali Bendre was very upset about your elimination.

She has been rooting for girls right from the start. She really wanted a girl to become the Indian Idol. And she was especially very fond of me. Maybe it’s because she is married herself, but she understood me and my predicament the best.

In fact, I was not so upset over my being eliminated as I was at seeing how hurt and upset she was over my being voted out. I was very happy when she came on stage to support me and comfort me. She took away half of my pain with her hug.

Did you expect anyone else to be eliminated in your place?

I wasn’t really thinking about it. But, yes, I guess I did think a couple of others deserved to go out instead of me. Like Sourabhee. She has the image of being India’s Shakira, so she is getting all the votes. But I don’t think she is as hardworking as the rest of us. Or maybe it’s because she has a different target.

Remo, too, is a weak performer. He has energy on stage and he is a good performer, but he has problems with his sur. But I also feel that the day he decides to sing in perfect sur, he will eliminate all the other competition.

Did you talk to your husband after the elimination?

My husband was not able to come for the show because he had to go to work—he is working in a club. So I talked to him immediately after the show. He was very upset, but he also gave me a lot of courage. He told me that as long as he was with me and I had my talent, I would never fail.

Now that we are settled in Mumbai, we will try to make a name for ourselves in the world of music.

What are your plans now?

I haven’t become the Indian Idol, so I’m determined to make it as a playback singer. I will also do a lot of concerts. All the Top 12 have a contract in place with Sony, where they will give us an opportunity to sing in big concerts. And if they like my voice, they may even make an album with me.

I plan to stay in touch with everybody—the contestants and the judges. I will make something of myself.

Girls should not participate in Indian Idol at all

When Ananya came to Indian Idol, it was with a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. Not only did she have to keep up the good name of her family, but she also had to make a name for herself—so that people would know her not as Pandit Birju Maharaj’s pothi, but as Ananya Mishra the singer and performer.

And with standing ovations, exemplary comments from the judges and a flawless gala performance under her belt, the last thing on this 17-year-old’s mind was an early elimination. I caught up with Ananya soon after her vote out and she talked about her journey so far, the friends she will miss and her future plans—all through a veil of tears.

Were you expecting such an early vote out?

Never. Definitely not so early on in the galas. If my elimination had happened during the piano round, I would not have been so upset. My third performance was not so good, it was not my kind of song either.

But my first gala performance was one of the best. Everyone—the contestants, the judges, the Idol crew—they all told me that. The song Hum dil de chuke sanam was such a difficult song to sing live on stage.

Who did you think would get voted out?

When Mohit and I were in the bottom two, I thought he would go. Not because he is a bad singer, but because in the gala my performance was far better than his. When Hussain and Chang had asked us to choose a side, I chose the safe side because I was so sure that I would be safe.

How do you feel now?

I feel bad and angry. I don’t think I deserved to be voted out after such a good performance. I’m also angry with the janta because I don’t know what they are looking for in a singer. Whom do they want as their Indian Idol? It doesn’t look like they want good singers. Now I’m worried that they will vote out good singers like Bhavya and Shini, too.

I’m also feeling very sad that I cannot perform in the next gala. I have not danced on the Idol stage so far and I was going to surprise the audience with three dance performances.

Did you talk to your parents?

Yes, I called up my father immediately. I am very close to my father. I share more things with him than my mother. And he was very, very shocked. He was like, ‘Hello, what happened.’

When I had decided to participate in Indian Idol, my dadaji and nanaji were like why is she doing this. Why does she have to go participate in a reality show. But I wanted to make a name for myself—not as Birju Maharaj’s pothi or Om Prakash Mishra’s beti, but as Ananya Mishra.

Did the judges talk to you?

Yes, they all talked to me off stage. Annuji even pushed the camera people away and said, ‘I am not saying this for the camera. Tu che mahine rok, mera call ayega. You’ll sing for me. You and Bhavya are two of my most favourite singers.’

What do you plan to do now? Will you continue to sing after this?

Yes, I will definitely continue to sing. I am a trained gazal and tumri singer. I used to do performances with Gulam Ali Khan saab and others. I am a professional singer.

I had come to Indian Idol because it was a completely different platform. And you also gain fame really fast here. But it’s ok. Agar yeh nahin, tho kuch aur sahi. Now, I’ll go back and get on with my life, my singing and my dance. And I am sure the fame I’ve gained here will help me with my future, too.

Will you come back to Indian Idol or participate in any other reality shows?

No, I won’t. I feel in reality shows, ek kalakar ki koi izzat nahin hai. I don’t know what the viewers are voting for. In fact, I think girls should not participate in this anymore. The first three Idols were boys and I know for certain the fourth will be a boy, too. So if the janta only want to see boys winning, then why should the girls participate at all?

What will you miss the most in Indian Idol?

Remo and Bhavya. They are my best friends here. I’ve shared so many good times with them. Remo, who is older to me by two months, was crying like a baby when they announced that I was voted out. I will not lose touch with them. I will call them up everyday from now on.

Indian Idol recap: Episode 32

Today the show was in the grip of retro bukhar. We jumpstarted with a name casting ceremony, wherein Javed was cast as Thakur, Annu as Gabbar Singh and Sonali as Basanti. But the real Sholays were Chang and Hussain who played Jai and Veeru. A loud applause was heard as Bhavya entered the stage as Bhavyakali. She wore an Anarkali dress, similar to the one worn by Madhubala in Mughal-e- azam. She sang the hit number Pyar kiya toh darna kya from the blockbuster movie.

Bhavyakali’s performance was applauded by the audience, but the real prize was yet to come. Hussain surprised Bhavya by getting her brother on stage, all the way from Gurgaon. But her happiness was short lived as Annu opined that she made a weak start to the song. Sonali asked her to gear up, while Javed asked her to work harder, as this are the galas.

Santa has a gift for everyone

A fun-filled Christmas party started with the contestants decorating the Christmas tree. To their surprise, a cute Santa walked in with bagfuls of gifts. Bhavya was excited to get a dummy bike, while Remo was happy with Priyanka Chopra’s photograph. Luckily, the santa left gifts for Chang and Hussain too. The duo looked really happy as they unwrapped their gifts, and found nice Indian Idol T-shirts. Santa ki jai ho!

Remo ka jaadu naheen chala

Remember Rajesh khanna sip synching Mere Sapnon ki raani? Remo came dressed like kaka, and sang the same number. But his face turned pale as all the three judges found his singing off tune. Sonali said the performance was not good enough for the galas. Remo went back to the pavilion with a heavy heart.

Next, it was Kuldeep dressed in a banjara outfit. He sang Mehbooba mehbooba while Saurabhi played Helen and danced to his tune. Applause followed. When poked by Hussain, Javed admitted that the famous ‘Amitabh going to mausi for Veeru’s rishta’ scene was inspired by a real life incident. Kuldeep was ecstatic when judges showed him the green light! Bhai, kamaal da munda hain yeh Kuldeep.

Kapil ka wada, Prosenjit ka irada

Kapil chose the sweet number Kya hua tera wada. The judges greeted him with green lights. Sonali was impressed with his growth and asked him to sing once more. Anu Malik found him perfect with tune and emotions. Javed felt that he sang from his heart. Kapil kept his promise, but the day wasn’t as action-packed for Prosenjit. His performance of Dil se was shown thumbs down by the judges. Javed was shocked as he was off tune today, only Annu gave him a green light as he expected better from him the next time.

Bhanu’s Dard-e-dil for Torsha

The long-haired, handsome Bhanu played Rishi Kapoor as he sang Dard-e-dil, while Torsha played Tina Munim and handed a hanky to him on stage. That was quite romantic. Annu and Sonali showed him the green light while Javed felt that his passion and emotions were missing in rendition, while he was technically right. This seemed unlikely with a pretty lass like Torsha around!

Torsha was in a ‘Madhuri Dixit avatar’ as she sang Ek do teen. She got the green light from all three judges. Annu felt she was at ease singing the tough song, while Javed felt she needs to break her own walls within to give a heart felt performance. But Torsha seems to be quite adept in touching hearts. Chang and Hussain asked her who she has sang the song for, when she answered coyly that it was for the hosts. Chang and Hussain looked heartbroken!

Saurabhi sets the stage afire

Saurabhi looked so beautiful in a pink dress and glittering jewellery, that Chang kept showering her with compliments. The charming girl sang Kaheen aag lage from the film Taal. Anu stood up to clap for her, and declared she was one of the best. Mohit sang tadap tadap ke and grabbed all the judges’ attention.

Rajdeep gave us fever

Rajdeep was dressed in Aamir’s Lagaan outfit and sang the badra song. The judges stood up to clap for him. They declared that Rajdeep’s performance was the best in this gala round. Rajdeep’s mom sitting in the audience said that he had high fever. Well, it seems some people are better off with fever. Kya bukhaar hain baap!

Priyanka, Indian Idol’s Katrina was surprisingly dressed in a demure sari with palla on her head. She sang the Radha song from Lagaan. But our singing Katrina couldn’t impress the tough judges. Better luck next time.

A shocking thing happened in the end as Hussain declared that the next day was the elimination round. Sonali, who has been very upset with the public voting mostly for the male contestants declared that she won’t attend the elimination round as she knows as usual, the remaining girls will be voted out. Anu, Javed and Hussain stared helplessly as he gorgeous lady walked out of the stage suppressing her anger.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sonali roots for girls

Sonali Bendre openly supports the female contestants on Indian Idol. After watching the tremendous talent amongst the girls this season she fervently hopes it is a girl who will win the Indian Idol title this year.

She has high hopes from all the girls but she is full of praise for Shini, the girl with the golden voice. Shini, the only married girl on the show, has reached the Top 14 with a lot of determination. Her ouster shocked everybody. But with Shini''s return in the Wild Card entry, Sonali''s hopes are soaring once again.

Being a married woman herself, Sonali probably identifies with her more. Few would recall that Sonali herself is a discovery of a film magazine''s talent contest. "I was in college then. I went thinking it was an audition for a commercial, but once there I was told I was selected and was to be launched in a film! I was sure my mother would freak out at the very thought of my being an actress!" she recalls with a smile.

Shini is lucky. She has a supportive husband, family and in-laws backing her to achieve her goal and she has Sonali rooting for her too.

Indian Idol recap: Episode 24

Ananya is the first to bid farewell to the gala stage

Elimination nights are usually filled with tension and tears, but the contestants were not willing to let the first elimination of the galas be all about worry. They started things off with a fiery performance of their hit single, Yeh world humara hai. And what a performance it was. It had the audience and the judges on their feet, applauding.

But things soon settled down as Hussain and Chang got down to business. They announced that Tulika and Mohit were in the danger zone.

And the bottom six are…

But the hosts were not in a hurry to announce who the other four were who would join Tulika and Mohit. Instead, they asked the contestants to choose for themselves where they thought they ought to be placed—in the danger zone or the safe zone.

To everyone’s surprise, except for Sourabhee and Prasenjit, everyone else opted for the safe zone. But were all the contestants who thought they were safe actually safe? Only time would tell. When asked why, despite bad performances and comments, Priyanka and Kuldeep had chose the safe zone, they said that had listened to their hearts and were confident they would be voted safe by the janta. Will their instincts betray them?

Whom will Lady Luck favour?

Hussain and Chang did away with too much build up of tension and declared that Torsha, Rajdeep, Prasenjit, Sourabhee, Kapil, Remo, Priyanka and Bhanu were safe in quick succession. Which left Kuldeep, Bhavya, Ananya and Shini in the bottom six.

Bhavya is frustrated

She may have comeback with a bang, but this talented singer is upset and frustrated that the audience does not seem to appreciate her singing. “It looks like the janta never really liked me,” she said, with tears in her voice. “Good singing and judges’ comments don’t help. I’ve tried everything and yet I don’t get the votes.” And then she voiced what’s been troubling her all along. “There are good singers here [in the bottom sing] and all the singers over there [the safe zone] are not all good.”

But her tears were premature because Bhavya was announced safe. And she was asked to take Kuldeep along with her, who was also safe. Shini didn’t have long to wait either before she was given the green signal to the safe zone. That left Mohit and Ananya in danger.

A shocking elimination

In a surprise move, the judges decided not to let two contestants be eliminated at one shot as they had promised in the last round of the Pianos. Instead, only one would have to pack his or her bags and leave. Unfortunately, that person was Ananya. The talented singer could not hold back her tears. “I was so sure that I would be safe. My first gala performance was one of the best,” she said. “I will miss everyone deeply”

The judges were unanimous in their opinion that the janta had made a very big mistake. “Ananya is the symbol of today’s contemporary girl. She is such a great combination of singing and performance, another like her will be very difficult to find,” said Javedji. Sonali said, “She has a fabulous personality, a fabulous voice and she is a fabulous performer. I’m so sorry to have lost you on this show.” “The country has made a huge mistake and they will realise only later the gravity of their mistake,” said Kailash. Annu had the last word. “The janta will end up with an Indian Idol that they don’t want if they continue voting out such good talents,” he said.

Anaya’s swan song

A teary-eyed Ananya sang Hum dil de chuke sanam for the last time on the gala stage. Brave though she was, she could not continue beyond a point, especially when her friends came on stage to support her. Now, it’s a lonely walk for her out of the studio and back to her life in her home town. We will miss you, Ananya.

Indian Idol recap: Episode 23

It’s been a scenario of high drama, both inside and outside the studio. First the strike by the production crew put a spoke in the wheel of Indian Idol Galas. Then the terror attacks on Mumbai cast a pall of gloom over it. But finally the ultimate musical mahayudh is here.

As a tribute to all those who sacrificed their lives in the terror that followed November 26, the contestants began the show with a rousing rendition of Chale chalo from Lagaan. The judges then expressed their feeling of remorse, solidarity and, of course, anger. “My heart is heavy. But it is a duty that has to be done. And since it cannot be done with glum faces, we have to do it with a smile,” said Annu Malek. But Javed Akhtar was more vociferous. “I am shocked that a handful of terrorists could simply stroll into our city and attack us and hold us to ransom for days,” he said. “We have to get together and let those in power know that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” Sonali Bendre asked the youth to “exercise the power of voting”.

Shini stuns ‘em all

The first singer on stage was Shini and the petite singer from Gwalior was a live wire on the stage. Not only did she stun everyone with her song Mehboob mere, but she also bowled over the audience with her sexy performance. Annu said her performance was “outstanding”, while Sonali said she “was fantastic. You have bloomed and are no longer shy”.

Then it was Shini’s turn to be surprised when her very own ‘mehboob’ came on stage and proposed to her with a beautiful ring on national television. The girl went completely red and was almost speechless with joy.

Rajdeep came next and tried to woo Sonali with Dil to na keh saka. To his credit, he certainly made the judge blush and say that she was truly impressed. However, Rajdeep’s performance put Javed in a quandary: if everyone were to sing as good as the first two, then the judges would have no other job than to say “wah wah”.

Some plain speak from Sourabhee

The Tripura girl certainly meant to give a fantastic performance, but there was something lacking in her song, Pyaar ki yeh kahaani suno. She seemed to have sacrificed her singing to her performance, and she admitted it. Javed was impressed that she accepted her mistake and said, “You were so involved in your performance that you lost your sur and taal.” However, Annu said, “You are not a besura and I feel the audience must bring you back.”

Then Sourabhee gave the audience another reason to vote for her—she did a shimmy-shake with Hussain and Chang to the Shakira number, My hips don’t lie.

Kuldeep, the small town boy from Banda, is determined to prove that he is no country mouse in the big city or on the big stage. He wants to prove that he is a rock star. And prove he did. He enthralled with Bakhuda tum hi ho and even got Ananya on stage to serenade her. His efforts got him praise from both Javed and Sonali. “You’ve never sung better than today,” said Javed, while Sonali said, “You’re voice had emotion and it was a touching performance.” But Annu was not too impressed. He said, “It was average singing. Your voice did not touch my heart.”

Manmohak Mohit

In true romantic style, Mohit was dressed to the nines in a long overcoat with a red shirt and he tried to do a Ranbir with Khuda janee. While Annu felt he had sung the male lines well, Sonali thought it was a weak performance.

But Mohit did lighten the mood by doing a Saif—he proclaimed that he had written the name of the person he loves on his arm. And, voila, it was Prasenjit. And lo behold, Prasenjit reciprocated the gesture. Yeh kya Dostana ho raha hai yahan?

The girl that Mohit dedicated his song to was up next. Tulika sang Aaiye meherbaan and charmed Chang right off his chair. Annu thought there was every possibility that she would be the mallika of the mehfil. “Your singing and performance was beautiful. It was one of your finest,” he said.

Kapil wanted to quit

No, it was not because he was homesick or he had enough of singing. The Army man wanted to quit so that he could go and fight with the NSG commandos who were battling the terrorists. However, he realised that the show must go on and tried to spread some cheer with his Saawariya act. Though Javed thought the performance was weak and there was some gadbad in the sur, Annu was glad that Kapil was taking risks and no longer singing A,B,C,D.

A determined Remo took the stage next. He wanted to prove all his detractors wrong and he accomplished that with his performance of Zara si jagah. Javed thought that the chota don was flawless in his singing.

Prasenjit wants to fall in love

Prasenjit certainly had a reason for choosing the song Pehli nazar mein kaise for his first gala performance. He wanted to announce to the world that he was ready to fall in love! He also wanted some advice on how to do it. Sonali readily complied, saying all he had to do was sing the way sang on the stage and any girl would swoon into his arms. Annu, who was wowed by his performance, said, “It was an outstanding performance, one of your finest. You are the dark horse of Indian Idol.”

When Priyanka stepped onto the stage, she seemed to have stepped straight out of the 70s—with her tight kurta, bold make up and hair and a pert little flower in her hair. She was all dolled up for her song Oh mere sona re. But unfortunately, her performance superseded her singing according to the judges. “The antara is the jaan of the song and there was something missing there,” said Annu. “I’ve heard you sing better,” said Javed.

Bhanu misses his mark

Bhanu tried to cast his magic spell on everyone with Tera jadoo chal gaya, but the long-haired dude was not too successful. “You singing was good, but it was not flawless,” said Annu. “The low notes were not good and you need to throw your voice more.” Javed, on the other hand, pulled Bhanu’s leg about his blind belief in astrology and the stars. “Trust in your talent and not in Jupiter and Saturn,” he said.

Ananya was up next and she certainly did not miss the mark. Her song, Hum dil de chuke sanam, was almost flawless in its rendition. Annu was taken aback that he said, “Ananya, tu bahut khubsoorat hai, Ananya tu bahut gusse wali hai, Aaj sur me gaya hum khush hue, kya hua agar tu thodi nakarewali hai.” Javed felt that she had proved once and for all that she could be proud to say that she is from such a gifted family.

Fight club: It’s Bhavya vs Torsha

The girl who had come back with a bang in the wild card round was determined to prove herself on the gala stage. Bhavya sang Ghoonji si hai and though Sonali thought she was flawless and Javed gave her a standing ovation, Annu was less than impressed. He told Bhavya “tu sur se gayi” and that she could have performed better.

Next it was Torsha’s turn to mesmerise. She amped up her sexiness and performed to Yeh mera dil. Annu said her performance was outstanding and she was 100 per cent in sur. But he felt her throw could have been better. Sonali was pleased that the quiet girl had shown her versatility, and Javed said it had been a good attempt, though she could have brought the flirtatiousness of her performance into her voice, too.

And then the hosts surprised everyone with a video which revealed what the two singers actually thought about each other. Turns out they can’t stand each other’s guts! But Torsha and Bhavya were quick to clarify that, though misunderstandings do take place, they were friends and they respect each other. Hmmm, we think that was just for the cameras and the truth may be something totally different.

The contestants have a sleepless night ahead, for tomorrow it will be the first gala elimination. Get ready for some more surprises.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The biggest threat!

Bhavya stands to win the biggest show on Earth!

I want to transform the Idols: Mickey Mehta

A lean, composed man with a quiet manner, Mickey Mehta seems to embody the title he is known by—India’s biggest holistic health and fitness guru. For 24 years, he has been revolutionising the concept of wellness and redefining holistic health. His innovative ideas are based on Vedic philosophies and the therapies of Tao and Zen among others.

And he is the man who is behind keeping the Top 14 grounded, unified, healthy and fit. We talked to the guru on the what, how and why.

When you agreed to guide the Indian Idol contestants, what action plan did you have in mind?

We thought that just doing weight loss and trying to get them fit would be a very narrow idea. We wanted to do something very integrated—something that would primarily transform personalities on a broad-based understanding, keeping in mind that every contestant should have a better attitude.

Making a winner with a difference was the mandate. They needed to be transformed completely—in terms of personality, their physical look, confidence, attitude, self esteem and thought process.

So how did you go about it?

We started off with giving them nutritional guidance. We made them understand what foods would be best suited for such a programme—what would help them cleanse impurities, to purify, to invigorate, to revitalise and to fortify.

We also explained how the right food would influence the mind. You see, foods like fruits and sprouts influence the thought process and attitude. We showed them how to combat stress through food, how to get liberated energy through food. We prescribed a satvic diet to them.

What is their fitness regime?

They have gruelling 18-hour schedules every day. So they should be absolutely fit so that they can go through the grind and still remain alert, fresh and be rearing to go the next morning. So we got them to do a lot of yoga, free hand cardio vascular, pilates and strength training. We wanted to ensure that their body was strong so that they would not succumb to illness or stress. Our regime gave them more resistance, made them more tenacious and more perseverant.

We also did a lot of breathing exercises and pranayam. And, along with this, we also focused on intonation—improvement of throat quality and voice quality. This helps them to modulate better, to pitch better, get a higher octave and to improve lung power through deep oxygenation. This was a primary focus keeping in mind their very specific need as singers.

How else were you able to help them with your holistic approach?

I did a lot of group meditation with them, to help inculcate the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood, to help them create a support system—so that one did not pull down the other.

I told them that they were not competing with the idea of killing the competition; they were contesting—trying to better their own talents. A true artist never gets aggressive in competition. A true artist improves, contests and competes with himself or herself. Being healthy is being sporting, happy, joyful and performing well—it’s not just being fit.

So I’ve tried to make them have a sporting attitude, to do away with the fear of losing and the greed of winning, because both will take away from the competition.

Was meditation a part of their routine?

Yes, I practiced the subtle sciences with them. We did candlelight meditation, which ignites a flame in you. It brings about awareness, puts you in touch with your jubilant self—which wants to conquer and to out perform. This meditation fills them with radiance and glory. And it also helps them not to feel homesick. (Smiles) It helps to bring them collectively together.

I also did aromatherapy meditation with them—where you inhale the aroma of flowers and fruits. This helps to transform every impulse.

Could you tell us a little more about your concept, health beyond fitness?

Fitness has a very limited spectrum. The bandwidth of fitness is simply strength, stamina, agility, tone and flexibility. But when you look at health it is energy, stability, high immunity, balance, equilibrium, sense of being, belonging, commitment and responsibility.

Health is also a heightened amount of immunity, heightened perceptions, being able to sleep well, work well, having a clear focus in life, a beautiful thought process, and conscious and righteous action. Health is organic soundness, it is organic unity.

That is why my approach is multi-pronged. We approach health through various areas of life like eating appropriate—the appropriate type of food at the appropriate time and in appropriate quantities. We tell people to bask in the sunlight, in the moonlight—to be in nature as much as possible, to absorb the intelligence of nature—so that you are able to soothe yourself, to distress, to find your centre and your being. So that you can come alive once again.

You were also responsible for their grooming.

I talked to them about etiquette, posture, body language, mannerisms and attitude. Your body language says a lot about you, so I advised them not to look lost or puzzled, to communicate through their body and their eyes, to never stand or sit sloppily, to be alert and upright always.

I have seen my words have a positive effect, too. Especially in Torsha. She was very uncommunicative and her face never showed emotions when she first came on the show. Now she is more expressive, outgoing and confident.

Is there anything specific that you hope the contestants will take back from their experiences with you?

It’s not only with me that they have learned things. They will learn and take away a lot throughout the tenure of Indian Idol. They are in the midst of a mêlée of gurus. Even when they are being judged, they are learning something. It''s not like learning happens just when somebody teaches—learning happens as a by-product of being with somebody. You just keep absorbing and assimilating.

Apart from the set curriculum, it just so happens that our wisdom and experience are also naturally shared with them. It has happened in my interactions with them, too. I feel each contestant will go back a winner, with a lot of value additions.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

All about Ananya

Contestants prepare themselves as Indian Idol hits the road
Ananya means: Infinite. My father named me

About myself: I rehearse dance in the morning and singing in the evening. I am also a very confused person

Family: Parents, an elder brother (10 years older) and a younger sister. I am closest to my father. My first guruji is my father

Fear: Ghosts

Nickname: Shivvie

If I become the Indian idol, I will: Open a music institution for my father

Place: Varanasi

Ananya is Pandit Birju Maharaj and Kishan Maharaj’s grand daughter—music and art run in her blood. She has trained professionally in singing and has won various music contests across the country.

Apart from being a good singer, Ananya is also a remarkable Kathak dancer, a music composer and plays the tabla. This young girl has a golden voice and the right attitude that won her the judges’ hearts instantly.

Colour: Red and pink

Actor: Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan

Actress: Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukherji

Bhopal mein Dhamaal

Contestants to bring down the house as live gig kicks in

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shafqat Amanat Ali

This ''Rock star Ustad'' from Pakistan captured millions of Indian hearts when he sang Mitwa for Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. He then won acclaim for Yeh hausla from Dor. He has also sung for films like Hello, Mumbai Cuttings and Aashayen. Now, Shafqat Amanat Ali, the seventh generation of the Patiala Gharana, has released his album Tabeer.

The singer flew down from Pakistan to meet with the Indian Idol contestants on Rubaroo. Not only did he listen to them perform, but he also gave them tips on how to better their singing. We met up with the singer on the sets.

Have you been following Indian Idol on television?

Not one hundred percent—but yes I have been following it. I think it''s amazing the kind of talent the show has found.

How would you say the talent this time is?

It''s too early to say. The last time I listened to the contestants, they had already finished their training and they were very confident when they sang. The present set of contestants is getting there.

You got a chance to interact with the contestants. Did you give them any advice?

I did give them a few tip. Like they have to learn how to handle the mike. I told them that their voice needs to remain kulla. Because if you go on the higher notes aur aap awaaz ko thoda daba le, that''s not correct—that way you lose your points, you lose the beauty of your voice. So I advised them that when you hit the high notes, just move the mike away.

Three boys performed for you. How did you find the performances and who did you think was the best?

Kuldeep’s Piya nahi bole was very passionate and Mohit''s Lal meri had soul in it. But I think Roshan’s Mitwa was the best. He was very innovative. There were choti choti murkhiyaan here and there that are not in the original song. That shows that he can be a good playback singer.

Any comments about the judges>

Javed sir has seen and heard so much, he has the right to give any judgement he wants. Annu Malek is a little strong in his comments. I think he should tone it down a little. Kailash is a singer and he give his comments from that point of view, whcih is great.

Could you tell us something about your new album? It''s called Tabeer and it is already out in the market. We started the album off as a Sufi album. But soon it changed into something else because we included lots of fusion. There is mankabat, durbari fusion, semi pop—in fact it''s a mixture of everything.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Shini Kalvint MakeOver

Shini means: I was nicknamed chini because I sing sweetly. This soon became Shini
About myself: I’ve auditioned for Indian Idol before, but I didn’t get through. I met my husband during professional shows. It is a love marriage-I proposed to him
Family: My mother is a singer-she won the Gwalior Lata Mangeshkar Award. I loved to dance, but I also wanted to follow mom’s footsteps
Inspiration: Lata Mangeshkar
Fear: Sleeping alone at night. I enjoy horror films, but only with my mother
One thing I would like to change in myself: I would like to change my physicality-gain some weight

Indian Idol recap: Episode 19

Wild cards have been a routine, almost predictable, part of Indian Idol. Until now.
This time around the judges did the unpredictable—first they chose five contestants instead of three, then they chose the songs the five wild cards had to sing so that they could pick the best three, and, finally, they gave the contestants just one hour to practice before their performance. Talk about pressure.
But the five wild cards were ready for the challenge—with some help from their voice trainer and their fellow Top 10 contestants.
First up was Mohit with Jashn e bahar. Though he had never sung the song before, he gave a decent performance and was convinced that he would make it into the galas. But Annu had a problem with his song: Mohit had not sung it in the original scale. “The competition is tough and you should have gone that extra mile,” said the judge.
Bhavya knew that her every sahi sur would be a rung on her ladder to success. She met the challenge head on with Aisa lagta hai . She understood the judges were seeking a new dimension in her because she had not sung a romantic song on the Indian Idol stage so far. Though the judges decided to reserve their judgement until all the contestants had sung, Ananya passed hers: Bhavya had sung better than Mohit.
Charit followed with Yeh shyaam mastani. And though he felt the judges zaroor meherbaan honge, his friend Priyanka was not as considerate. She felt Bhavya had performed better than Charit.
When Shini had heard the song the judges had chosen for her, she had been excited. According to the shaadi shuda girl, her mother had sung it constantly and she had always loved it. But she was not sure if she could better her mother.
But better her she did! Hussain was so taken by her song Jayiye aap kahan that he wanted to know if Shini had hidden a CD somewhere nearby. Torsha seconded Hussain’s praise—she felt Shini had sung better than Bhavya.
Lat but not the least was Prasenjit. And Mr Kosambi had been given the toughest challenge yet by the judges—he had to sing Ajho ne aaye balma, a tough song to sing under any circumstance, and an almost impossible song to master in an hour.
But he faced the do or die situation with aplomb and delivered a powerful performance. Remo was so impressed that he said Prasenjit should have been sitting in his place.
After heated debates and arguments, the judges decided on the finalists. They okayed Prasenjit and Mohit, but said no to Charit. With two contestants finalised, it meant one of the girls would have to go home. But then Annu pulled an ace from his sleeve—instead of choosing the Top 13, they had decided to have the Top 14 this time. Which meant both Shini and Bhavya were through to the galas.
Of course, this does mean that the first gala will have two eliminations instead of the standard one. But then, who cares about that now? The contestants were too busy cutting Bhavya’s ‘belated’ birthday cake, along with Annu Malek. Party on, we say! Worrying about the galas’ elimination can wait another few days.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Annu Malek cheers for Roshan!

This young lad from Kannur district made his mark in the judge''s minds in the auditions itself. But it seemed that he was too conscious and as a result had lost his nerve in the first round. Roshan was lucky to survive…But some harsh comments from the judges seemed to have shaken him out of that stupor.

Roshan who has quit his studies for his love of singing made a mark this time around and surprised the judges with his performance. So much to say that the hard-to-impress judge - Annu Malek was quick to name him "Roshan ki roshani"!

Here''s hoping that Roshan''s singing lights up the hearts of millions of viewers and they vote for him too. Many of the contestants from southern India have suffered for the lack of votes in the past… We hope that it does not happen with this talented young boy…

Annu Malek is knowledgeable, but can be rude

Music director Annu Malek, who is a judge on music reality show Indian Idol 4, can be harsh with his comments to the participants, but the youngsters can learn a lot from his knowledge and experience, says host and television actor Hussain Kuwajerwala.

"Annu Malek k can be rude sometimes but he has immense knowledge and experience. The participants get to learn a lot from him," said Hussain.

Apart from Malek , writer-poet Javed Akhtar, singer Kailash Kher and actress Sonali Bendre are judges on the fourth season of the show.

The audience gets to see many a verbal duel between Malik and Akhtar, but Hussain says it is normal as "both are specialised in their respective fields".

"Javed-ji is very good with explanations. He can explain the mistakes to the contestants in a very simple and convincing fashion," he said.

Hussain started his TV career with Aashirwad and then went on to become a part of popular soaps like Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Krishna Arjun and Kumkum.

His popularity went a notch higher when he won the second season of dance reality show Nach Baliye along with his wife Tina.

He has hosted several reality shows earlier like Shabaash India, Kisme Kitna Hai Dum, Kuch Kar Dikhana Hai, Khullja Sim Sim 2, Indian Idol 3 and Nach Baliye 3.

The actor-cum-anchor says it is a pleasure to host Indian Idol again.

"Being the host of a show like Indian Idol all over again gives me immense pleasure because I have a lot of fun while anchoring it," he said.

According to him, the sets of the show have a positive energy and the entire excitement that surrounds the programme spurs him to do his best.

Asked what makes Indian Idol stand out among the myriad reality shows on air, Hussain said: "A show like Indian Idol is very entertaining and has extremely talented contestants, that''s why it clicks with the audience and they like it.

"Also everybody likes music, so a music-based show does find its way to the audiences'' hearts a little more easily."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Indian Idol recap: Episode 19

Wild cards have been a routine, almost predictable, part of Indian Idol. Until now.
This time around the judges did the unpredictable—first they chose five contestants instead of three, then they chose the songs the five wild cards had to sing so that they could pick the best three, and, finally, they gave the contestants just one hour to practice before their performance. Talk about pressure.
But the five wild cards were ready for the challenge—with some help from their voice trainer and their fellow Top 10 contestants.
First up was Mohit with Jashn e bahar. Though he had never sung the song before, he gave a decent performance and was convinced that he would make it into the galas. But Annu had a problem with his song: Mohit had not sung it in the original scale. “The competition is tough and you should have gone that extra mile,” said the judge.
Bhavya knew that her every sahi sur would be a rung on her ladder to success. She met the challenge head on with Aisa lagta hai . She understood the judges were seeking a new dimension in her because she had not sung a romantic song on the Indian Idol stage so far. Though the judges decided to reserve their judgement until all the contestants had sung, Ananya passed hers: Bhavya had sung better than Mohit.
Charit followed with Yeh shyaam mastani. And though he felt the judges zaroor meherbaan honge, his friend Priyanka was not as considerate. She felt Bhavya had performed better than Charit.
When Shini had heard the song the judges had chosen for her, she had been excited. According to the shaadi shuda girl, her mother had sung it constantly and she had always loved it. But she was not sure if she could better her mother.
But better her she did! Hussain was so taken by her song Jayiye aap kahan that he wanted to know if Shini had hidden a CD somewhere nearby. Torsha seconded Hussain’s praise—she felt Shini had sung better than Bhavya.
Lat but not the least was Prasenjit. And Mr Kosambi had been given the toughest challenge yet by the judges—he had to sing Ajho ne aaye balma, a tough song to sing under any circumstance, and an almost impossible song to master in an hour.
But he faced the do or die situation with aplomb and delivered a powerful performance. Remo was so impressed that he said Prasenjit should have been sitting in his place.
After heated debates and arguments, the judges decided on the finalists. They okayed Prasenjit and Mohit, but said no to Charit. With two contestants finalised, it meant one of the girls would have to go home. But then Annu pulled an ace from his sleeve—instead of choosing the Top 13, they had decided to have the Top 14 this time. Which meant both Shini and Bhavya were through to the galas.
Of course, this does mean that the first gala will have two eliminations instead of the standard one. But then, who cares about that now? The contestants were too busy cutting Bhavya’s ‘belated’ birthday cake, along with Annu Malek. Party on, we say! Worrying about the galas’ elimination can wait another few days.

It`s the time to party!

Belated birthday celebrations for Annu and Bhavya with a lot of fanfare and chocolate cake

Monday, November 3, 2008

Indian Idol recap: Episode 16

Piano rounds end with shocking eliminations

Hussain had some breaking news to give the audience and the contestants—10 would be eliminated at one shot from Indian Idol. And even before the shock had died down, he called Shini, Megha and Sourabhee onto the stage. Shini, whom the boys had nominated in their Top 2, found herself on the losing side. She and Megha were out of the competition.

Next Tulika, Ananya, Sreejita, Akanksha and Priyanka were asked to come face the guillotine. An ecstatic Tulika was declared safe and she knelt down on the stage in gratitude. Ananya and Priyanka were also shown the green signal.

However, the biggest shock was yet to come. Bhavya, Torsha and Nirali faced the firing squad next. And Nirali, who was expecting to be shot, was miraculously saved—making Bhavya the target of the janta’s dismissal. An angry Annu Malek ranted and raved about the injustice of Bhavya’s ouster, but his hands were effectively tied by the masses. He had to watch helplessly as teary-eyed Bhavya, Shini, Megha, Akanksha and Sreejita left the stage and walked away.

Every night has a dawn

The dismal pall of eviction was swept away with the first performance of the night. Torsha sang Bhaage re man kahi, and though energy was lacking because she was still reeling under Bhavya’s eviction, her singing got some positive comments. “I have to commend her jasmaniyat,” said Javed Akhtar, while Sonali Bendre exclaimed, “You were fantastic.”

‘Dilli ki bijli’ Priyanka was up next. Her Main kudi anjaani did not go down well with Annu. “Why did you choose this song?” he asked her. “You lost your sur and leh.” However, Kailash Kher did not want to demoralise her and said, “I will give you 100/100.”

Fighting against her bottom 2 tag

Nirali was very upset when she heard the boys thought she deserved to be in the bottom 2. She promised that she would perform her best if she were given another chance. And another chance she was given. However, her song Aaj mein upar did not have the brightness it needed. According to Sonali, Nirali was concentrating so much on the sur that she has forgotten her spontaneity.

Ananya sang Main albeli. Though her sur was off a few times, she gave a decent performance.

Miss Hawa Hawaii steals the show

Sourabhee, the girl who wants to win India’s hearts, proved that she is a voice to look out for. “Bahut khatarnak ladki hai yeh,” said Annu. “Your voice had the expression that others try to achieve through their body and face expressions.” Javed said, “You felt the song.”

Tulika took the bull (Annu) by the horns by choosing to sing Main talli ho gayi—a song composed by Annu and sung by his daughter, Anmol. And her gamble paid off. Annu said: “Your mukhda wasn’t strong, but I loved the way you sang the antara.”

Time for more goodbyes

After the girls performed, the clock rang in the moment of the boys’ elimination. And as with the girls’, it proved that you can never predict how the audience will vote. Mohit, Prasenjit, Roshan and Kuldeep were called on stage first. Though Kuldeep had given a mediocre performance last time and Roshan had wowed the judges, the boy from Kerala had to face the axe. The hard-working Prasenjit, too, had to bow out of the competition—something that shocked and surprised his friend Mohit so much that he was inconsolable.

Charit, Remo and Bhanu were called next. Remo, who had not managed to impress the judges with his two earlier performances, was saved, as was Bhanu. Charit, however, had to catch the next train home.

And, as with the girls’, the greatest shock was reserved for the last. The dulcet-voiced Sandeep found he did not have enough fans to save him, and he and Keshav were out of the show. Which meant Rajdeep and Kapil would sing another day.

Bhanu doesn’t win Annu’s heart

The winner of the Indian Idol Deepak title, Bhanu took the stage with In dino. However, Annu was not thrilled. “Your throw wasn’t strong and you were besura sometimes,” he said—a comment that was echoed by Javed.

But Kapil managed to regain lost ground with Pukarta chala hoon main. His earlier song had got a negative comment from Javed, who said he was imitating Kumar Sanu. This time, however, Javed said: “You sang well. Your voice was not nasal and you sang in your own voice.”

Performance of a lifetime

Rajdeep stole the show with Main hoon na. Annu was so impressed that he gave him a standing ovation. Sonali was appreciative of his presence of mind—Rajdeep’s mike malfunctioned, yet he bounced back perfectly.

The lucky Kuldeep was not lucky with his performance. Once more he won criticism instead of praise. His Ae zindagi gale laga le made Kailash and Javed say: “You were a little besura.” But Annu begged to differ. “You are the mastermind of masti and sur ki pujari,” he said.

Mohit issues a warning

He brushed aside his tears and took the stage with renewed energy. His Bachna ae haseeno wowed the judges and had Annu exclaim: “It was fantastic.”

Remo did not let anyone down either—neither his Roshan bhaiyya nor the judges. The ‘chhote don’ did an Aamir Khan with Bam bam bole. Javed said, “Well done. I liked your song.” And Sonali declared, “Compared to your previous songs this was definitely the better one.”

Next up are the Galas. And two more singers will be voted out. But it’s not all sadness—the Wild Card round will see the re-entry of some deserving singers. Picture abhi bhi baaki hai mere dost.

The biggest shock

Bhavya`s vote out is the hardest to digest, Annu & the rest come out in support of her

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Indian Idol recap: Episode 15

The show started off with the contestants moving to Om Shanthi Om with hosts Hussain and Chang. Kuldeep''s performance followed this jig but it failed to maintain the excitement generated by the dance. The judges felt it was a lukewarm performance.

Prasenjit adds the zing

Prasenjit brought back the zest with his performance. His dance routine made his performance a bigger hit. Hussain soon revealed that his moves weren''t his own alone but he taught the girls a couple of steps as well. At this, the girls joined him on stage to shake a leg.

A special Diwali

Diwali mood was still in. A snippet of the contestants’ celebrations revealed that they spent the day in a meaningful way with orphaned kids. The show then moved on with Roshan''s Dard-e-Disco. The judges were taken aback by his brilliant performance. He was a huge hit.

The fantastic performers

Rajdeep bettered his previous performance. Sonali was thrilled and thanked him for setting high standards on the show. This stellar performance was followed by Mohit''s. He too wowed the judges and enthralled the audience with his dance moves.

The disappointments of the evening

Sandeep who mesemerised judges on Piano Round 3, disappointed this time. The judges felt it was his overconfidence. Remo followed with his dismal performance. The judges stressed on hard work. The only highlight for him on stage was the towel dance he did along with Hussain to the song he sang. The disappointments kept rolling in with Keshav''s dismal performance and Kapil''s copycat Kumar Sanu voice.

The star of the show

And then there was reprieve with Bhanu''s performance dubbed as the ''performance of the night''. He was the winner of the special prize - a silver coin.

Who will win Indian Idol this year, Girls or Boys?

As the girls outperform the boys, the audience is in store for a huge shock with 10 participants being eliminated from the show this week.
They came, they sang, they conquered!!! And not only that, they convinced one and all that they are here to stay. We are talking about the girls on Indian Idol. And the boys, in true sportsman spirit, cheered them on.
This season, the girls outdo the boys not only in number, but in performance too. They rendered some confident and rocking numbers. Which leads us to the age old question, ‘who will win the coveted title of Indian Idol 4 this year?’ Sonali Bendre firmly believes that a girl will walk away with the crown while Javed Akhtar hopes a good singer wins – be it a boy or a girl. Annu Malek, on the other hand, with his keen sense has picked one from the lot – Bhavya Pandit, the first among the singers to get an offer to sing for him in a forthcoming film.
But with laughter come tears. As Saturday dawns, the viewers and the contestants are in for a huge shock. After every singer putting in their maximum effort with round the clock riyaaz, wanting to be a part of Indian Idol 4 with all their heart and soul, 10 of the participants will have the carpet yanked off their feet.
So catch the great singing, enchanting performances and shocking eliminations on Indian Idol 4 this Saturday, November 1st at 9.00 pm only on Sony Entertainment Television.

10 contestants to get eliminated in Indian Idol 4

Don't miss the shocking eliminations On Indian Idol 4 This Saturday, November 1 At 9.00 pm Only on Sony Entertainment Television. They sang, they danced and they convinced one and all that they, the girls, are definitely here to stay. The boys couldn't help but cheer them on. The number of girls, who have caught the attention of viewers and the judges, far outnumber the boys with their rocking performances & confidence.Sonali Bendre is convinced it is a girl who will take the title this time round. But Javed Akhtar hopes a good singer will win - be it a boy or a girl. Annu Malik has already started recognizing the immense potential - young Bhavya Pandit is the first to get an offer to sing for him in a forthcoming film. There are more waiting in the wings...
Though come tomorrow the viewers and the contestants are in for a huge heart break! Eviction this Saturday on Indian Idol 4 is sure to shake one and all. Imagine after every one of them putting their heart & soul with round-the-clock riyaaz, commitment to singing, and wanting to be a part of Indian Idol 4, 10 participants will have the carpet pulled off their feet! There's great singing, enchanting performances and shocking eliminations...Stay tuned to Indian Idol 4 This Saturday, November 1 At 9.00 pm Only on Sony Entertainment Television.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rajdeep returns with a vengeance

Public voting always shocks the judges; it seems the audience minds have a different outlook than that of the judges. Last week, it surprised everybody that a talented singer like Rajdeep Chatterjee did not manage enough votes. He landed in the bottom six while lesser talented singers were sitting comfortably with votes in their kitty.
It seems to have spurred the ever smiling young man even more to give his best shot to his singing. His performance in this round once again raised the bar on Indian Idol. He sang Sonu Nigam''s Ae dilruba… with such verve that he won over the judges and the audience with his performance. One hopes he stays on the show until the finals. He deserves to be there and voted in.

Bhanu makes history on Indian Idol 4

Bhanu Pratap Singh, the long-haired guy who was put down by his two female partners for not singing well enough, ended in near nervous breakdown when he was rejected. The judges decided to give him a second chance and he made it to Mumbai.
Once here, the guy is leaving no stone unturned to make his presence felt. His confidence is soaring and his singing has taken everyone by surprise. As a result the dark horse (Bhanu Pratap) was the only one to receive Silver Coin awarded to the best performance of the day on Diwali from the judges.
Bhanu''s joy knows no bounds. Kailash Kher believes that Bhanu Pratap Singh is destined to make history on Indian Idol! Who can forget that last year Prashant Tamang started his journey on Indian Idol with his partner refusing to sing with him in the theatre round? His partner was eliminated in the first round and Prashant survived to win the title. History repeats itself, they say…

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Guys Voted Out

The four guys who left out Indian this week are, Ali, Sourabh, Pranav and Parashar.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Indian Idol 4 Episode 09: Part 10

Jugal Hansraj rocks Indian Idol 4

Indian Idol 4 has stolen all the hearts. Now get ready to know your favorite contestants as we bring the uncensored and personal anecdotes about them on Indian Idol 4 Rubaroo, starting this Thursday October 23 at 7.30 pm & a repeat at 10.30 pm. Hosts Chang and Deepali take you into the lives and present to you the little known side of this year's contestants.Kick starting the episode this week we have a very special guest on board. He is the chocolate boy, Jugal Hansraj, who stole every heart in town when he made his debut in Masoom many years ago. Jugal Hansraj, the actor- turned -director came with his two debutantes- Romeo and Laila from his first directorial debut, the animation film – Roadside Romeo. Needless to say, he was completely floored and dazzled by the young talent this season. They too were delighted to be with him and put up an impromptu show of singing, dancing and mimicry. In between shots they even sang all the songs from Jugal's films - Tujhse naraaz nahi..., Ghar se nikalte hi… Chalte chalte yuhi ruk jata hoon main amongst others.
The actor-director was humbled and touched by this gesture of the contestants and he enjoyed the attention everbody gave him. Inspite of a bad cold Jugal happily posed and interacted with all the contestants. He promised to send everyone a music CD of his film as a token of appreciation. Well, it was not only the girls who were floored by this chocolaty actor- turned -director but everyone else on the sets too adored him and his two debutantes – the naughty Romeo and cute Laila… as together they entertained the contestants with a dance performance from the film Roadside Romeo.

Roadside Romeo on Rubaru

Cupid on the sets?

Turns out that ever since Keshav laid eyes on Torsha Sarkar, he has been smitten. And some say his feelings may be reciprocated, too. And thus began ‘Sarkar Raj’. [Ha, and you thought it had something to do with Ramu’s film.] I haven’t been able to get further details, but keep watching this space—because I never admit defeat.
Now, Charit’s story is even more hazy. Seems all the girls think he is hot, but they also think he is boring because he doesn’t talk too much and he certainly does not rowdy around with them. However, Priyanka Negi is of a different opinion. To her, he is just HOT, HOT, HOT. There could be a romance brewing here, people!
In fact, Chang and Deepali tried to force Charit’s hand in the matter—to make him admit to the little crush. Chang gave him a rose and asked him to present it to the girl he liked the best. But Charit turned out to be as wily as a fox. He coolly ignored Priyanka and gave the rose to the only married woman in the group, Shini.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Deepali: Idol’s sweetheart

Deepali was a good singer who didn’t attract much attention until Meiyang Chang decided to make her blush with a rose. Overnight, she became the sweetheart of Indian Idol. Her popularity may not have taken her right to the top, but Deepali is not too upset by it.

“I did feel bad then because I felt I should have been in the Top 3,” says the new host of Rubaroo, “but now I realise it was not such an achievement after all—because being in the Top 7 gets you an anchoring part!”

We caught up with the bubbly girl on the sets of Idol and she opened up on her journey so far, Chang and the new bunch of talents on the show.

How does if feel to be back on Indian Idol?

It’s great, almost inexplicable. Last year, on Indian Idol 3 I was so tense—there was pressure to perform, to make it to the next gala. But now everything is so relaxed. I enjoy being a host and, more than anything else, I enjoy being a part of this show. If there is an Indian Idol 10, I would still want to be a part of it!

What preparations did you do before you turned host?

Well, the auditions were impromptu. We had no prepared scripts to read from. So Chang and I needed to know how to talk to strangers, how to be spontaneous. For practice, we would go to the malls in Mumbai—like Inorbit and Infinity—and we would approach total strangers and talk to them as much as we could. This helped us understand how different people would react to us and we ought to react to different situations.

And, on a more personal level, my look was changed. I got a makeover—my hair was coloured, my makeup was changed, and I was given a completely new dress sense and sense of style. On Indian Idol 3 I was always dressed in salwar suits, lehengas and even saris. Now my clothes make me look much younger.

How is it working with Chang?

He is the best co host I could have asked for because not only were we friends on the sets of Indian Idol 3, but we have also kept in touch after that. We have been working together for a year now. When we got this offer we were very happy that we had a friendly face on the sets—someone with whom we have the comfort level as well as the ''sparking'' chemistry.

Moving onto your singing, did you pursue it in the last one year?

I sang a duet with Emon [Chatterjee] for Annu Malek in the film Don Muthuswami. It''s a love song called Tum kaun ho. Though it didn''t get much publicity, I think it was a truly beautiful song.

People expect that once you come out of a reality show, you have to turn a playback singer. But I soon realised that was not the only option. Live concerts and shows are great learning experiences. I’ve done lots of them, both in India and abroad. I’ve sung in Hong Kong, Dubai… I just returned from Kuwait and, I must say, when I went there I never expected people to have watched Indian Idol, but the response was huge.

In India, the response I get from small towns and villages—like Nagpur, Ramgar, Lucknow—is tremendous. Live concerts and shows are great learning experiences. You have to play with the band, you have to keep a different audience entertained every night, and everyone has to happy with you.

Do you have any other offers in hand?

No, not yet. I am studying in UPG College in Mumbai. I am doing BMM and I am very busy with that—I have to study, I have to do live shows and now I also have Indian Idol in hand. I don''t have the time to sleep right now. [Laughs] But if I get some good offers, I will definitely do them.

How has the response been to you as a host?

Oh, it was very good. At first people never expected me to do well in the auditions because they thought ''arre yeh to chup chup rehti hai'', how can she express herself? But after the auditions, their mindset has totally changed. Now they know I can speak, I can shout, I can do whatever needs to be done.

Hosting Rubaroo is certainly different from the auditions. Which do you prefer?

Yes, they are both totally different from each other. On Rubaroo, you have scripts ready and a set of questions to ask, while in the auditions you have to be instantaneous and spontaneous—you have be ''turat turat turat'' because there is no one to prompt you ki Deepali ask this question. It has to come to you. I would say I definitely prefer the auditions.

Coming to this year’s contestants. Do you think they are better that your batch?

I feel they are more qualified than we ever were. Most of them are classically trained and quite a few of them are also professionals in the field of music. They are singing fabulously and I am sure the audience will enjoy their singing.

Are you rooting for a girl this time?

Yes, most definitely. It''s high time a girl won. Last year, when I was voted out, I asked the audience to vote for either Pooja or Ankita. This year, I hope they do vote for a girl.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kailash Kher Fan Club Unplugged!

Looks like all are out to woo the newest judge on Indian Idol 4, Kailash Kher. Every other contestant aspires to render a new version of the musician's hit song Teri Deewani... but Kailash had a weird fan experience, but guess what, he loved it to the core!!

Through the auditions Kailash was not just put to test for the vocal skills of contestants, but also had heard them repeatedly sing his own song. “In fact the Lucknow auditions of the show had not just one, but six people entering the room for audition at the same time and singing his song,” says our source.

“The team of 6 young men have now formed a forum AIKFC that stands for All India Kailash Fan Club. Kailash was overwhelmed to know that his fans respect him and his fan club even existed. But the irony came when they started to sing a besura version of Teri Deewani… for him,” adds the source.

Annu who couldn't control his laughter started making fun of the act and said "Kailash tumhare fans toh bohut surile hain!” An upset Kailash gave it back to Annu with "Fans hona ek baat hai aur surile doosri!" Kailash got up and joined his fans on stage and dedicated a song for them!

Kailash is a true Idol of his fans. Isn’t it!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Different Moments of Piano Round 2

Indian Idol recap: Episode 10

When hope and fear went hand-in-hand
There may not have been any celebrities on the sets, but the second day of the piano rounds on Indian Idol had its starry moments. The highlight of the show was when Kuldeep sang Teri Deewani—Kailash Kher was so impressed by it that, when Annu Malek asked him to give his rendition, he didn’t hesitate to sing a duet with the overawed Kuldeep. What the viewers didn’t catch on TV was their electrifying performance on stage—both the singers matching each other note-for-note, pitch-for-pitch. It was truly awesome.
But not everything is rosy:
With the highs have to come the lows. And on Saturday, it was the eviction of not one but four girls at one shot. The tension had begun building the moment Hussain and Chang decided to play a prank on the girls. They called Purnima, Srijita, Priyanka and Bhavya on stage and made it sound as if Bhavya had to pack up and leave. The tension scaled a little higher when Annu announced that he had the envelope with the unlucky contestants’ names in it.
Soon it was time to open the envelope and, in one clean sweep, Purnima, Raina, Sunakshi and Pooja were declared out of the show. Tulika couldn’t believe that her roommate Purnima had to go home, and burst into tears—she was inconsolable for the rest of the show. The judges, too, were in shock—over Sunakshi’s eviction. They couldn’t believe that the Mast girl, whom they had lauded during the first piano round, had been felled by the viewers’ votes. They implored the audience to think really hard before they eliminated contestants with potential.
However, the entire show was not veiled with tears. The boys gave a commendable challenge to the girls’ performances on Friday.
Rajdeep hits a sixer:
Rajdeep Chatterjee began the innings with a well delivered Laaga chunari mein daag. Javed Akhtar felt his innings was flawless and effortless, almost like a smooth-flowing river. But Annu had a more interesting way of summing it up: “Cake lage, ice cream lage yum yum yum, mujhe aapke awaaz mein lage dum dum dum.”
Saurabh Mehta followed it up with an equally well appreciated Zindagi maut na ban jaye. Kailash said that his voice “has a filmi andaaz” and that he hopes the country votes for him and gets another great playback singer.
Charit’s Badi mushkil hain attracted kudos from all the judges (who liked it because it was rich with emotions and expressions) except Kailash—who wasn’t too impressed.
Frisbee fan Mohit’s great throw:
Mohit Lalwani took over the stage with the evergreen hit Ek haseena thi. HE had the audience on their feet and the judges clapping along. Kailash felt that he had loads of energy, while Annu said “ladke mein dum hain”. Javed and Sonali Bendre, however, felt that though Mohit’s voice throw was very good, there was still room for improvement.
Prasanjit Kosambi sang well but did not sing in the right octave that his song Dil hain ki maanta nahin deserved. While Javed advised him to choose the right octave, Annu made the boy sing it again in a higher octave—to prove what a difference it makes.
Keshav Prasad, however, failed to do justice to Tu hi tu satrangeele. Sonali felt that his singing was a tad too mechanical and Javed thought that the junoon and deewangi that the song deserved was missing in his rendition. But Annu, as usual, had the last word. He said that he was expecting so much from Keshav that his bad performance “broke my heart”. “You were not involved in the song,” said Annu. “Where was the sur? I am very disappointed.”
Rocking Roshan has a less than rocking show:
The boy from Kannur in Kerala tried his best with Tanhaee, but the judges were not too impressed. Both Kailash and Javed felt that he OK, though he lost his sur in the beginning. Annu exclaimed: “Teri awaaz mein narmi hain, garmi nahin.”
Parashar Joshi tried to get the tempo going with Yaa Ali. But he only managed to make Annu think that he was shouting and not singing. Javed advised him to better his pronunciation.
Ali Hussain managed to revive the boys’ flagging confidence by delivering a well-appreciated Piyare. While Kailash and Javed said that he sang well (though his voice needed a little more polishing), Sonali asked him to be wary of forgetting the lyrics. Annu’s verdict? “Teri aawaz ko sunkar mere dil ko aya hain chain.” Pranav Srivastava had everyone on their feet, dancing, with his Chal chaiya chaiya. Though Annu thought that he did go nasal at times, Javed was impressed because he did not try to copy Sukhwinder—but, instead, gave the song his own touch.
This is no army song:
Kapil Thapa, the army man who was inspired to join Indian Idol after Prashant Tamang won the title in 2007, drew on the audience’s heartstrings with his Dil kehraha hai. Sonali had only two words to describe his singing—“You rocked!” But Javed and Annu corrected him on his choice of octave. They encouraged him to experiment with his range and to constantly challenge himself.
Indian Idol’s ‘chhota Don’ was on next. Remo Ghosh from Nagaland tried his best with Yeh hawaein. Though his tender years and lack of experience shone through, his vivacious personality helped him evade harsh criticism. Javed warned him that a similar performance from an older boy would have been ripped to shreds. Annu asked him to promise him three things: that he would work harder, do more riaz, and do lots more masti!
And then came the song and the singer that floored the judges. The unassuming Sandeep Ubale came on stage and blew everyone away with his perfect rendition of Rim jhim gire saawan. Javed was so impressed, that for the first time on the show, he stood up and applauded the singer! Sonali said that Sandeep “transported” her, while Kailash said, “I see a very big star in you.”
Try, try, try and you will succeed:
No one knows this better than Bhanu Pratap. After auditioning for and being rejected from all three previous seasons of Indian idol, this Jaipur boy finally got his chance to sing on the piano round’s stage. His Pehli pehli bar baliye moved all the judges. Javed said, “Your voice has tremendous emotion and feeling. You have a heart that understands pain.” Annu was also impressed. He said, “It is not an easy song to sing, but you sang it very well. But you have to try harder still.”
And now the boys must wait to see what effect their singing had on the viewers—for next week they will be the ones on stage, not knowing which four will have to bid adieu to the Indian Idol stage.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Priyanka Chopra on Indian Idol 4

This Friday, October 17 will see the top 15 girls perform. They are young, vivacious, extremely talented and go getters! Flagging off the first episode of the Indian Idol 4 - Piano Round is none other than the glamour girl and star of Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion – Priyanka Chopra.

While Priyanka's presence boosted the confidence of the pretty little ladies, we also have the past Idol winners present to boost the morale of the girls. Indian Idol winners - Abhijeet Sawant, Sandeep Acharya and Prashant Tamang were there in full force to support and cheer the girl's brigade. Whoever said there is a male bias?

Here are all the Indian Idol guys cheering the girls in an effort to find their first female Indian Idol. Looks like it's going to be a tough time for the guys this time with everyone from the judges to the winners rooting for the girls all along.

Going by the history of the show, last year we saw only a few girls making it to the top! Will the audience support them in their endeavor and vote for them is the big question?

Indian Idol 4: Episode 9

The grueling auditions and the tense theatre rounds have finally borne fruit—we now have faces to put to the Top 30. And kicking off the piano round were the 15 girls. But before we get to the singing, we have to mention how things were just a little different on Indian Idol this Friday—not least of which were the two new hosts.

Hussain didn’t have the vivacious Mini on his arm this time—instead he had the cheeky and bespectacled Meiyang Chang meeting him repartee for repartee. The ‘partner’ and ‘buddy’ kept the audience in splits with their gags and their jokes.

Queen bee of Fashion: Priyanka Chopra turned her back on fashion shows and walked off the ramp, right onto the Indian Idol sets, to give the contestants a well needed boost of confidence. Dressed in dark blue jeans and a silver top, she praised, applauded and offered constructive criticism wherever necessary. Hats off to you!

Ananya sets the tone for the evening: Birju Maharaj’s grand daughter proved that she, indeed, has music flowing through her veins. Her song, Suno sajana, had Annu exclaim, “Wah wah kya gaaya, lagta hain kahin se tufaan aaya,” while Sonali said, “You have lived up to our expectations… now keep bettering it.”

Bhavya also impressed with her Mal mal ka kurta. Priyanka felt that the 16-year-old had very naively added seductiveness into her song.

Pooja and Shini didn’t let the judges down either. Pooja’s Sajna ji vari vari was so well performed that Priyanka said she was “completely entertained and totally enthralled”, and the only advice Annu had to give was that she “challenge herself”. And Shini’s Dil hoon hoon kare had Javed Akhtar exclaim: “Only a girl from Gwalior, the city of Tansen, can sing like this.”

The Don professes his love: In the midst of lilting melodies and enchanting voices, Hussain couldn’t help but inject a lighter note. And he pounced on little Remo to provide the diversion. He claimed that the ‘little Don’ (why Don—because Remo believes he is a pocket-sized powerhouse) was harbouring a secret—a crush on Priyanka. Hussain and Annu teased Remo so much that he finally admitted to the actress: Chote Don loves you. Priyanka took it in her stride, saying: Meri history rahin hain ki Dons ko mujhse pyar hota hain.”

A discordant note: The naughty Megha, who is always on the lookout for victims for her jokes, failed to strike the right chord with Yeh hain reshmi zulfoon ka. Though she began the song with confidence, the judges felt that it sounded over practiced and that she lost her sur. In fact, Javed said it was the weakest performance up till then.

Torsha and Purnima, who followed her onto the stage, were not able to regain lost ground either. Torsha’s Baiya na dalo oh balma got mixed responses—while Priyanka thought she was so perfect in her sur that she was having fun with it, Annu felt that she went off key. Purnima’s Beedi jalaile got a very tanda response. Sonali said she was disappointed and Kailash claimed, “Gana utna gehra nahin laga.”

Akanksha brought up the rear of this group and she too couldn’t make a mark. The judges unanimously felt that her song, Tujse naraz nahin zindagi, did not have any expression or soul in it.

The tide turns: Sourabhee, the petite girl from Agartala with hopes of becoming a singer and entering the world of glamour, realised her dream—and how! Her song Tere bin nahin jeena marjana dolna had Javed in raptures. He said: “Here is a girl from Agartala, singing a Hindi song with Punjabi words, in Mumbai, and the whole of Hindustan is listening to her.” Priyanka admitted that she got goose bumps when she was listening to her sing.

When luck came knocking a second time: Nirali had been heartbroken at the end of the theatre round when the judges chose Srijita over her. She couldn’t grasp how she could have come so close to realising her dream, only to lose it. But things did not remain dark in Nirali’s life for too long. The lucky girl got a second chance when one of the contestants had to bow out of the competition for personal reasons.

She took the stage with the desire to make the judges see that they had made a mistake by rejecting her the first time. And her rendition of Aisa jadoo dala re did just that. The judges applauded Nirali’s confidence and her performance. But Kailash did advice her to move the mike away from her during the loud notes so as to avoid the appearance of shouting.

Coping with the ups and downs: It was Tulika’s turn to impress with her Urmila-esque matkas and jhatkas as she sang Rangeela re. An impressed Annu succinctly said: “Teri awaaz mooh se nikli aur meri dil mein bas gayi.”

However, Sreejita was not able to carry the momentum forward. She faltered with Leja sandesa. Javed felt that she was not able to hit the higher notes, while Kailash said she didn’t complete the mukhda.

Then it was the cutesy Sunakshi’s turn things around. The girl with the teddy bear (who incidentally got a seat beside her on the stage) rocked with the song Mast. Priyanka couldn’t believe that such a sweet girl could give such a power-packed performance.

The final two: Raina, who loves to sing so much that every given chance she breaks into song, was not able to hit the right notes with Mera dil ye pukare aaja. Though Javed felt her voice was a very individual one, the others felt that the emotion and the essence of the song were missing in her performance. In fact, Sonali felt Raina didn’t even know when to draw breath correctly while singing.

But things did not end on a bad note. Priyanka proved that she was determined to win the Race with her song, Khwab dekhe chote mote. And her namesake at the judges’ table exclaimed, “Aapki naam ki tarah aapki gaayki bhi badi sundar hain. Javed, too, had some high praise for her—one of the top three performances of the day!

The performances may be over, but the tension is not likely to go away any time soon. After the country has chosen its favourites, four girls with the least number of votes will be eliminated. It’s tough luck, but then that’s life and that’s competition. After all, the show must go on.