Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Talent show?

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 India, I would advise you to read this post again.


Mark IV said...

u should see these super singers and junior super singers where they molest and assault lil kids...
but well, some ppl wld kill to get on TV... and most of these ppl can mouth to Ghoongat Ke pretty well!!!!!

The Black King said...

Very very well written and debated, Jolly Roger! It is so true... the last priority for these people is to hunt talent: the primary one is to run the show on primetime! I liked the way your spun your arguments. Were you a debater? :)

chronicwriter said...

YUP ... ME TOO SEEING THESE IDIOTIC SHOWS... seriousness apart, I know one guy there.. but who are Tom and harry?

Nithya N said...

powerfull words. i can totally see your fury. And i agree. the panel should be taught to maintain discipline and not act like first class kids.

Oxymoron said...

I know the tamil show youre talking about - sapthaswarangal! Yep, I agree, the show was excellent, the judges distinguished and the singers, genuinely talented. Great post Roger! However, I would like to say, that even though such shows are a farce (yes, I do agree) I also believe that they do some good as well. One, they are a medium for the regular, average, middle class teen/young person to have access to national/regional television, who otherwise would only stand in the fringe of the crowd and applaud. Second, the experience goes a long way in shaping them, a pinch to the proud and an encouragement to the discouraged (yes, it can work the other way too, we'll go by the odds!). What I find worst about these shows is that there is rarely any originality about them. Starting with Kaun Banega Crorepathi, which was copied to the last 'I' from Who wants to be a millionaire to Indian Idol which is a copy of American Idol. What I dont understand is when we have such big brains, why cant we come up with some original ideas??

Trinity said...

Its all a fake! i only feel sad for the kids of this generations and worst still in case of my kids when they come...
i recently went for one game show and everything there is a farce even if i gave the wrong answer they made me repeat for another take?!
worse still is the politics!!! if the directors or producers kids or friends were your opponents you can play without any tension for surely they will only get the prize!
so coming back to the kids- these kids might not know the underplay and might think that they really no good!
It may do more harm than good when it comes to kids the subconscious is very important and this kind of Character Assinations go a long way and worse is the parents who get carried away and cry with their children
who is to be blamed???