Sunday, September 23, 2007

Are Music Talent Search Shows Overdoing It?

It’s amazing how the television channels are buzzing with some kind of music talent show or the other, all of them are competing for eyeballs on prime time television. It’s rather confusing, even to Ronnie who is a fan of all these shows of the Indian Idol kind. Poor chap! Since all the contests are airing at the same time he has to be fast and furious on the remote button, changing channels during commercial breaks of one to catch up with what is happening on the other. Then our fights about "Why can't you watch one show begins...." Grrrr!

On Zee is a show called “Sare Ga Ma” which is a talent search show and on Star television is a show called “Voice of India” which is ditto. And, you won’t believe this, on Sony television in the same time slot is the show that started this craze for scouting musical talent, called “Indian Idol” about which I have ranted before on this blog.

Now the gyan (wisdom) of it all. Why all the glitter, the craze to showcase the hopefuls? These bright-eyed young people are made to wear extravagant costumes on the sets, ragged no end (There's talk of a love triangle in "Sare ga ma" which is open season for . When they go to their small towns where they hail from they are treated like rock stars; even before they have been crowned the idols. What if they lose? Wouldn’t it be a huge disappointment?

Then there was this presenter who is reporting from Darjeeing, “There are posters all over Darjeeling which reads “Vote for Amit”.” And there was Amit’s teachers’ spiel about how good a boy Amit is and a couple of other good people recommending Amit since he is from the locality and it would be their victory if Amit is chosen as the idol. Also, the calling booths are fully booked by people who want to vote for Amit.

The presenter goes on further and informs in her not very unexcited voice that the schools are considering giving a day off for students to fill the coffers of the SMS service providers (each of these SMS is charged around Rs 6 and in the semi-finals nothing less than three to five hundred thousand SMSes are received for one candidate. Not a bad income. In the final there would be several million SMSes.).

My simple mind blanches at these facts and figures. Are we becoming a defunct nation of idol worshippers of the “Indian Idol” type? I have seen the elimination rounds and it was nothing less than heart rending to see those young people who were eliminated by ruthless judges in the preliminaries. After all, it maybe a harmless way to pass the time, but are we setting the youth a good precedent? Are television channels whipping up mass hysteria over music talent shows to earn millions through sponsorships, advertisements, and short messages?

And what happened to Abhijeet Savant who was the last “Idol?” Is he being short-changed in the music industry by the same people who elevated him into the position? After all, which established singer likes competition from a fresh young voice that has the backing of the public?

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