The popular musical reality show Indian Idol is all set to come back with its seventh season on Sony Entertainment this year. There will be a reunion of judges, popular singer Sonu Nigam, music composer Anu Malik and director choreographer Farah Khan on the show after a gap of 12 years. Abhijeet Sawant, Sandeep Acharya, Prashant Tamang, Sourabhee Debbarma, Sreeramchandra Mynampati and Vipul Mehta have been the winners of the six previous seasons respectively.
The judges spoke to The Statesman at the Delhi auditions, which will be aired soon at the end of this year on Sony Entertainment. Excerpts:
What is Indian Idol for you?
Indian Idol for me is a changing show not only for contestants but for me personally. It gave me an alternative career of reality shows judge. That was the first time when I was on TV on Indian Idol. And 12 years have ended, 21 reality shows have come into my bag till now.
Definitely it gave me a brand name. Besides, being a choreographer and a director I'm a little more than that, thanks to Indian Idol. Not every director comes on TV. Normally people don't know how directors look like. It made me popular.
You are back on this show. What is the difference between then and now?
Well, the judges are pretty much the same. I think there are a lot of changes in contestants that I see. The ones now are far more prepared. They are
learning music. It's not a time-pass for them. It's now a career option. So, everyone is taking it far more seriously than that they did when the show started.
How is Indian Idol helping the aspirant singers?
Truly, not only we have changed but India in the sense of reality shows has changed. People now realise the power of these shows that can make you a star instantly and it also gives you a way to have a better life. Even people who didn't win the Indian Idol, like Monali Thakur, Neha Kakkar and others are at the peak of their singing career. Apart from singing, the contestants are popular TV faces also. Also, it needs a lot of determination to be like this after not winning the show.
How do you see the female contestants when they reach the finale?
Personally, I don't really judge them on gender. I never say that a girl or a boy should win. I think the person who sings the best and who's loved the most by the people deserves to be an Indian Idol. After the last 12 years that we haven't done Indian Idol, all the girls are coming with their mothers, fathers or brothers. They are being supported by family and they want their girls to be singers.
What are your expectations from this season' contestants?
I expect to have more originality in them. Earlier, everyone had come and tried to sing like Sonu Nigam. I think that has changed. They want to sing like themselves. Someone who tries to sing like other singers we say bye-bye to them. They have their own voice so that when you hear them you can recognise them instantly.
You are probably the only singer who can sing in almost all languages. There are a lot of regional dialects that have disappeared now. Don't you think singing can somehow preserve these dialects?
Yes, singing can be a medium to do so. I have sung sub-languages like Khasi (Meghalaya), Manipuri and many which are not even in the National Languages (list). I get the opportunity and do it. I enjoy the bliss that god has given to me. The priority of this show is good singing, personality and attitude but singing in their own dialects and folk songs there is another feeling.
What should an Indian Idol contestant do to win the show?
It all depends how they work. If they are working hard personally and putting their best foot forward then they become people like Shreya Ghoshal, who did not stand first, she was second in my earliest show called Sa Re Ga Ma and today she among the top singers of the country. So, it all depends upon their hard work and destinies. Winning should not be the priority.
Don't you think it is easier to gain popularity in comparison to your days of start-up?
Well, everything is destiny. There were people around me who got a lot of things very easily. I took a lot of time to reach where I'm today. It was a slow process; I got everything in instalments but people like Kumar Sanu always say in his interviews that he didn't have to struggle. He came and just conquered. He got five Filmfare Awards back-to-back. So, most of the people don't struggle too much but I struggled.
Even today, if the contestants become Indian Idols they'll become super successful but from there they have to embark upon their own journeys, aided with a lot of determination. If you are lucky you will get a good feedback and if not god bless them!