Ever since I saw an episode of yet another voice (talent) hunt rather tragically misnamed as Voice of India, I was bursting to blog. The show and all others of its genre are crap to put it mildly and are collectively a farce that is produced and thrust on an audience that is often swayed by the tiniest of all gimmicks.
Firstly the show was hosted by a singer of some note, a wannabe pop star and a failed actor whose biggest claim to fame will be the airtime on such shows. The judges were worse, we had Mahesh Bhatt, Pooja Bhatt, Annu Malik, Alka Yagnik and Jatin / Lalit. Now before proceeding any further what credentials do the Bhatts have to be part of a jury, this is not a fashion pageant where every Tom, Dick and Harry can endure the inanities mouthed by the contestants with intensely plastic smiles and designer garments and pass judgment. This is supposed to be a genuine talent contest where participants are generally expected to have some music training, so who qualified these judges?
Secondly the contestants are judged by a mockery of a jury with the 3 minutes or so they appear on stage singing their favourite song. Now can justice be done like that? Is this a glorified school competition? Is music just mouthing a comfortable film song and often attempting to sound as close to the original as possible the qualification to succeed? I remember a similar kind of show on Sun TV where the competitors were judged on melody, rhythm, tone and scales, sadly such shows are rare.
Thirdly because these shows are on TV the visual spectacle is as important as the sound itself, so you have contestants wearing their best and strutting more than their voices on stage. A notable show was the Channel V pop stars where the first batch was only women. Obviously not many would want to see men in spaghetti straps, will they? So you had a rag tag bunch of girls who were willing to look sexy and glamourous and if you got beyond all that had passable voices too. Before they won the contest we got a voyeuristic view of their personal lives including look-ins to their bedrooms et al.
Fourthly some of these shows proceed to humiliate the contestants in full glare of an audience and then proceed to telecast the gory details to all who choose to see. In the show that sparked off this post one of the contestants (a girl incidentally) started off very promisingly with “Ghoongat ke…” a very popular song mouthed by Juhi Chawla and Amir Khan in an old feel good movie, somewhere down the line the girl missed her cue after the musical interlude and looked blank. The judges proceeded to crucify her in the public glare. A raging debate ensued about whether the girl should be given a second try or not, the jury was divided on that issue. Now if you have a clue how songs are being recorded nowadays this debate would have been a no-brainer. Every singer no matter how big he/she is has the option of takes and retakes before getting that perfect sound, further some singers today are so atrociously bad that they resort to “Punching”. Punching for the layman is the sound engineers’ equivalent of Ctrl C / Ctrl V, where the singer can choose to sing and record in bits and the sound engineer will do the needful. Sometimes singers may punch phrase by phrase or line by line depending on how bad they are. Often masking the errors digitally and modifying the voice by the sound engineers render the finished product totally different from what the singer recorded. So why crucify a singer for a genuine error? Maybe she was dreaming of future glory which she is entitled to. Not to mention the pressures of public performance and singing before an incompetent jury, I think people like her are entitled to small mercies. The ultimate irony however was when the girl got ranked a 9 despite singing one verse only. Finally the girl made a tearful apology to all and promised to do better next time almost elevating the kind hearted judges to the status of demi-gods.
To put such farcial shows into perspective, Naresh Iyer the current National award winner for best vocalist participated in a singing competition judged by A. R. Rahman some time ago. Naresh did not even make it to the winners list, but he was noticed by Rahman who promised him a song later and the rest they say is history. Spare a thought though to the winners.
Next time you or your friends get into such contests, I wish you well. But if you think that by winning such a contest you have a great voice and are the voice of