The Idea Star Singer on Asianet
I generally avoid most of the over hyped stuff except the iPhone (of course, I don’t own one, but anyone can drool over it, right?) and the Die Manschaft (German Football Team). With that mindset, I gave the major chunk of Idea Star Singer 2007 (ISS07) the miss, along with Super Star 2007, Big Star 2007, Small Star 2007 and anything else in between.
However, as I had heard a bit about the singing prowess of Najim Arshad — the eventual winner of ISS07 — from those who religiously followed the event, and saw countless ads in Asianet about the live telecast of the grand finale that was being held at Chandrasekaran Nair stadium in the heart of my home town, Trivandrum on Sunday, 19 April 2008, I decided to check it out.
It was a decently organised event (great by Kerala-standards, perhaps), and the competition itself was sublime, except for the average male singer who finished rather expectedly at the bottom of the heap in the finals. I was listening to “Parayaan maranna” — rendered so wonderfully by Thushar — for the first time, and was spellbound by the magic of the song. Ramesh later told me that he had tried to make me listen to this song when I visited him a few months back, but somehow I was not in a mood to listen then. But I am glad that I waited till I heard Thushar sing it.
That day I decided to follow ISS08 with a bit more fervour and interest. I would say that I am not disappointed with what they have dished out so far. As expected, the initial rounds were dotted with a few good performances here and there, but now that it has reached the second round (or whatever round), there are fewer contestants and hence consistently greater quality. Another huge factor that is making ISS08 far better than how it started out, is the return of two pillars of ISS07 — the great great music director Sharath (remember the gems from Kshanakathu or Pavithram, anyone?), and the former Miss Kerala turned anchor Ranjini Haridas. That has injected the much required life into the program (in the moments when the singers are not actually singing).
The contestant who has impressed me the most has been the versatile Vivekanand (I would be surprised if he doesn’t end up as the eventual winner). Of course there are a few others, but he seems to be a couple of notches above the rest of the fold. I can vividly recollect how well he managed “Parayaan maranna” (yes, the same song!) in his audition round, and later how well he rendered “Nirangale..paadu..” (an awesome composition of late Ravindran maash, sung ever so beautifully by the one and only Yesudas, from the Mohanlal starrer, Aham), and to top it all, how easily he managed “Subha muhurthamaayi..swasthi” (the same three culprits, but the movie is “Kamaladalam”). In fact, I had never given the latter song the respect or the place it deserves in the pantheon of great songs, probably because I was too young when that movie came out to really appreciate the nuances of this great song, but Vivekanand made me realize what a gem of a song it really is! His latest has been the duet round performance in which he sang “Ponnil kulichu ninnu”. He really is a prodigious talent, and I hope he go on to realize his potential and dreams.
The others who have left a lasting impression on me include Somadas (who rendered a few songs in a way only top notch singers could), Prashobh, Abilash (he is probably an average singer, but I like him for his humbleness and the ease of rendering), and Manikanta Das (he sang “Thanner thotti thedi vandha” from Sindhu Bhairavi really well, and recently sang “Pramada Vanam” in a way decent way). I don’t have any favorites among the ladies (I personally feel the laides’ talent pool is not as good as the men’s this time around).
Malgudi Subha (of “Chaiya Chaiya” fame) nailed it when she said on the show, appearing as a celebrity guest, “Kerala is the only state where you can dish out melodies consistenly and people actually lap it up”. That insight, to me, is what differentiates this program from the numerous other stupid programmes that appear in Tamil or Hindi. Some of them are good, but you won’t be treated to songs of the highest calibre, so consistently.
If you are like me, and are not able to follow the event on TV on a daily basis, there is hope. There are a few good samaritans out there, who upload the videos to YouTube, allowing us to dig in and watch the performances again. It looks like one of them has decided not to upload anymore since Asianet is going to upload the videos themselves on their site. Here is the link to the two best sites covering ISS08 out there:
Amidala’s Youtube page (audition round coverage)
Idea Star Singer 2008 unofficial homepage (audition and initial stages of second round)
Devi Souparnika’s DailyMotion page (I couldn’t find the latest episodes in Youtube)
Thanks for reading thus far and I hope you too enjoy what promises to be a sumptuous and musical ISS08.