Indian Music Reality Shows

These last couple of weeks I have been engrossed in playing catch-up with some Indian Music Reality shows on youtube, to an extent that I have not had time to do my regular blog posts. It has been an addiction, and I am writing of it today as a catharsis so I can get back to my normal pursuits in life!

It all started with this young boy’s singing I heard from a Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’Il Champs 2009. Hemant Brijwasi, a little lad born in 1998, has been gifted with a Voice (capital intended). I trawled Youtube, listening to all his performances from 2009 and enjoyed most of them. Look how he sings when he was just 11 :

I ask you, what should a society do when they notice a talent such as this in a young boy? Should society not nurture him, send him to a Guru who would enhance, enlighten and hone his skills until it burns bright, giving light for all his life? Yet that doesn’t happen in India! The boy is still singing in the reality music circuit, selling his promise of an extraordinary future for the short term glow of television. To my mind, a sorry waste.

From there, I went to play catch-up with Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar 2012. It has started coming on Star here in Europe (Sundays at 10 pm). Youtube carries all the old episodes; for a link to the appropriate channel, click here. I like the format of this show with a competition between the ‘champions’ and the ‘challengers’.  The judging panel is good, with Shaan, whose singing I admire a lot, Music Director Shantanu Moitra, one of today’s composers that I admire the most thanks to his link with tradition, melody and lyricism, and Swanand Kirkire, winner of two National Awards, with his gasp-inducing penmanship. However, I found the judgements to be very questionable at times. I fail to understand why they play to popular appeal of competitors and ignore the serious pitching problems of some. Surely, being besura is inexcusable? The competitors who impress are Aneek, Sriram and Anwesha.

For a happy change from Bollywood music, I saw a number of episodes from Carnatic Music Idol 2012. What a change in style! Here too the judging panel was excellent, with illustrious musicians. The attitude of the participants made all the difference – no signs of competitiveness or one-upmanship, no signs of arrogance and  a respectful attitude to both the music and the judges. The contrast between the new brash India-of-Bollywood and the old world India-of-the-classics is so very evident when you watch the Idol show and then the Carnatic show.

Of course, the Carnatic Music shows are for viewers who understand at least a bit of Tamil.

Note: The videos for the section below are no longer available on youtube; I have left it here for reference only.

I recommend you watch the Semi-Finals and the Finals; the contestants are very good indeed. The winning performance by Vishnudev Namboodiri is convincingly good.

I also saw selections from Tanishq’s Swarna Sangeetham which are available in this channel. Again, a very good judging panel, an excellent selection of guest judges, very good attitude and skills in the competitors and fair judgements makes this a treat to watch. I have embedded the finals below :

I hope I have made you aware of the many hours of viewing pleasure (and addiction) which awaits you in Youtube. Enjoy!


Filed under Bollywood Music, Carnatic Music

11 responses to “Indian Music Reality Shows

  1. Ramesh

    Oh ; understand the appeal of music talent shows, but for me, personally, they are a huge turn off. Don’t watch any of them and don’t want to ! There’s of course massive musical talent in India, and these shows do bring up some outstanding finds – think Shreya Ghoshal or Sunidhi Chauhan. But the format of competitiveness, especially amongst young children, heartbroken by “defeat”, inflated expectations and pushy parents are a no no for me. Particularly galling is the Carnatic Music Idol programme, of which I saw one episode – I simply cannot stand Neyveli Santhanagopalan pontificating, even though he is from the same town as I am 🙂

    Oh well; aren’t people’s tastes different . Appreciate and respect different tastes ; so will let you enjoy the shows :):)

    • Hello again Neyveli Ramesh 🙂 You have a point about young kids and pushy parents…actually the Carnatic music competitions seem to be very harmless as compared to the viciousness of the Bollywood music competitions. Still, people like Shreya, Shaan etc came out of that system, didnt they? I don’t enjoy the competition aspect, but I do very much enjoy listening to the young musicians.

      • Chattarjee

        Shaan did not come from any reality show. His dad was a decent music composer – so it’s basically feudal connection like rest of bollywood stuff. Sagarika is his sister btw.

  2. Joël

    Thanks a lot for sharing these videos! The technique of young boy is very
    The programme “Carnatic Music Idol” seems very unique with this rasika audience and distinguished panel! I do not have TV but I cannot imagine such programmes in the West in which one would let someone improvise for about 8 minutes without interruption! I liked very much this composition about Ganesh (very nice rhythm!).

    • I am glad you enjoyed the videos Joël 🙂 The Carnatic Music panel was indeed illustrious – it included the stalwarts like Balamurali Krishna, Aruna Sairam, Neyveli Santhanagopalan, Ganesh (from the Ganesh-Kumaresh duo), Gayathri Venkataraghavan and many others. They had a panel of 20 judges, which is unsual. But as to improvisation, Carnatic Music is at least 80% improvised, so evidently the contestents need to be tested on their ability to do so. The section you saw was a mini-RTP (Ragam Tanam Pallavi) which is almost all improvised. The pallavi was ‘nAyakam vinAyakam gaNanAyakam sadA bhajE ham’ and the Raga was Shubhapantuvarali. I am surprised you know that vinAyaka is the same as Ganesh! You studied Hindi, did you not? I saw something in your blog about that. Anyway, thanks for your visit and comments 🙂

      • Joël

        In the panel, I knew only Aruna Sairam & Balamuralikrishna (I would dream to see one of his concerts!). I liked the stress on the Tanam part (which seems to be omitted very often) and the slowness of it seems very appropriate with respect to the subject of the composition. Indeed, during my second trip in India in 2006, the first in the South, one of the first things I noticed was that the names that were given to gods tend to be different in Tamil Nadu (I did not see Skanda/Kartikeya temples in the North, but there are many Muruga temples in the South ; and of course Ganesh is called Vinayakar there).
        I know some very basics in hindi, but I am very lazy and I should learn this language more deeply because my next trip will be in the North only (from Kolkata to Mumbai).

  3. tangleofwires

    Oh dear, YouTube is already a time-sink for me, this is only going to make it worse 😉

  4. Amit Kumar

    There is huge potential in the youth of the country when it comes to singing and dancing, but these reality shows are just about minting money, nothing else. How many finds of these reality shows have you seen on air or becoming playback singers? Not even a handful. I was surfing the net when I came across: She is a young girl singing songs for her mother. She hails from the small city of Dehradun and sings really soulfully. I like her confidence of being able to make a mark for herself at such a tender age and not wasting her talent in some reality show. If she wanted to, she could have gone to some reality show where her fate would have been decided by vote. Do get back with your thoughts.

    • I agree with you that the Bollywood shows are more about making money for the producers than finding true talent. Yet singers like Shaan and Shreya Ghoshal have come through this system, haven’t they? Something has happened in the Hindi film music industry – there has been a shift in the power-base over the years. Once upon a time the Music Directors were important but so were the star singers. We only had a few singers but what singers they were!!

      But in today’s era there are no star singers any more. For one, the use of electronics allows errors of even average singers to be masked. Is it not a joke that even besura singers can sing for films, only to have their voices corrected by technology? The instrumentation has become so heavy that ‘pure voices’ are not important as they were. The Music Directors seem to have become the only stars in the music industry; some even sing even though their voices leave much to be desired. I look at Hindi film albums in puzzlement today because even the best singers like Shreya dont seem to be doing much work. Yet I also heard an interview where a very talented music director like Shantanu Moitra said that he didnt have many films because he was being forced to produce ‘modern’ music only, wasn’t being given artistic freedom. It’s a shame, truly.

      But in my post you would also have seen me mention Carnatic Music reality shows. These in contrast are conducted well, judged fairly and produce good singers who get opportunities in the concert circuit. I know Carnatic Music has a limited market, but they are doing this better.

      I heard the video that you had attached and also a couple of other songs by Shraddha. The young girl indeed has a sweet voice, but it is evident that she still needs serious voice training. I hope she doesn’t take her youtube success as being the be-all and end-all and instead concentrates on getting the kind of training which will help her reach her full potential.

  5. deepak hansawat

    if someone sees any dates for the reality music shows for the young talents than please inform me on my mobile number 07230935635 i will be very thankfull to that person.
    or he/she may inform me on my gmail that is

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