Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A true hero

There’s so much of talent in India, sometimes it’s quite unbelievable. I have become addicted to some of these song shows on television ever since I started viewing Flame X Chal Udiye on Set Max several months ago. Some of the participants, especially the younger ones, seem to display a precocious talent for music. Not only that, most of them perform beyond their age and, enthused by audience response, judges’ comments, and the votes that flow in, become masters at entertainment.

All of them vie to get into the last-four stage or enter the finals, but, of course, somebody has to leave to make way for somebody else. Often, the voting pattern does not reflect the quality of the singer or the performance… but then, people have a way of deciding. What sometimes turns out to be ugly though is that votes for programmes such as Indian Idol are cast based on the participant’s background – which Indian state he belongs to, the language speaks etc. For example, in one programme (was it Amul Star Voice of India), we had people from Punjab voting for one participant in the final, while people in Madhya Pradesh voted for the other. In any case, the participants turn out winners, each having a fan following.

What these programmes have done is not only to showcase raw Indian talent, but also provide youngsters an opportunity to make it big in the music and film industry. Some have managed to produce albums, others have been promised careers by leading music directors. What more can you ask for?

Although I am addicted to old Hindu songs (the reason I watch K for Kishore unfailingly), I have now developed more than a passing interest in Idea Star Singer that is hosted by the Asianet channel every night. Two days ago, I was moved to see one participant, Sannidhanam (named after the area near the sanctum sanctorum in Sabarimala), receive a standing ovation as he left the contest for good. Apparently, he was the most popular of them all, and had sung his way to the last few stages. Although he had a large fan flowing – the votes kept him afloat many a time – the judges’ marks counted in the end, and he had to leave.

My mother and others tell me that Sannidanam hails from a poor family and all his songs are sung in praise of Lord Ayyappa. Sannidhanam cried as he left, and the judges and everybody watching the show swallowed hard. Many had tears in their eyes. Of course, he received attractive gifts for his efforts; an NRI in West Asia even sent him a Rs 2 lakh cheque. But that was not what Sannidhanam exemplified. I think he symbolised what hard work and passion can do – not just lift up your spirits but also take you several notches above in life. A child of poor parents turned hero that night. I don’t think a participant in any such programme on television has ever received a standing ovation. Here’s to you, Sannidhanam, for an inspiring performance all through! We hope that you will always do well in life.

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