Reality Music Contests on Indian TV Channels

The other day, while channel surfing, I stumbled upon the Zee-TV SaReGaMaPa “Bishwayudh” grand finals. I have not been following this show, but the community was buzzing with excited fans rooting for the three finalists – Anik, Raja and Amanat. Anik became the champion and being a Bengali it felt good that another Bengali kid has succeeded in keeping up the tradition of excelling in the performing arts. And I think that this partisan and regional feeling, in some sense, carries more weight in deciding who wins. It was impossible to qualitatively judge the three performers since they all were excellent singers. Hence, selecting the champion is nothing but a chance accident on who votes and for whom.

Almost all Indian TV channels (national and regional) host multiple music and dance (which I’ll talk about in a future blog) contests. These so-called reality shows draw a huge fan following (it seems people are sick and tired of the cliche ridden, poorly made serials) and they also provide a platform to bring forth the best talents from all across the country. The ETV Bangla channel, that I watch most, has three such music contests – “Sa-theke-sa”, “Tarana” and “Gane mor Indradhanu”. “Sa theke Sa” is conducted by a very talented musician, Nachiketa. However, the screening process of the adult contenders do not seem to be strict enough which often results in mediocre performance. Judgment is rendered by a single senior musician instead of any voting or audience poll. “Tarana” is a kid’s contest and is targeted primarily for kids. Judgment process is similar to Nachiketa’s show. Some of the participants are really talented but the show lacks the glamor and glitz of the other more popular shows.

Of the three contests, “Gane mor Indradhanu” is the most elaborate and competitive (and possibly the most funded) show. The previous round of this show focused solely on Bangla songs and featured the adult performers. And what performers they have been. The show demonstrated that the depth and breadth of musical talent in Bengal is something that we should be really proud of. In the current round of “Gane mor Indradhanu – Tarana”, the competitors are the teenage and pre-teenage boys and girls from all corners of Bengal. Listening to them is an amazing experience. Some of the young boys and girls are so talented that their songs bring tears to the most critical of the judges on the floor, not to mention the audience on the set and the viewers on the other side of the screen. Singers like Ahinjita (7-8 years old) or Debdyuti can sing at par with any of the established musicians. The contest is judged by a panel of distinguished musicians like Monomoy Bhattacharya, Jojo, Sudeshna Ray, Sampa Kundu and others and they do not hesitate to make critical comments (in a constructive manner) to point out the shortcomings of the performers. But they too are often awed by the sudden flashes of talent demonstrated by these youngsters. If these talented performers are properly trained and groomed, I am sure that they will make us all proud one day and Bengal will retain its esteemed position in the field of Indian music for many more years in the future. Kudos to ETV Bangla for bringing this show to us. The only complaint I have is that the show could have retained its focus on “Bangla Songs” only as it did in the previous round.

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