Indian Idol, a very popular, not to be confused with great, singing reality show based on British musical programme Pop Idol, has launched some careers and brought many talents to the limelight. Though it never touched the level of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, it is still quite a watchable show, to some extent because of the judges’ unique comments. From Anu Malik to Farah Khan to Javed Akhtar to Sonali Bendre, who hasn’t been a judge on Indian Idol! They bring their own perspectives and decide whether a contestant is good enough to be called an ‘idol’!
It’s other thing that it takes time to recall the past winners apart from one Abhijit Sawant! Ardent fans may remember Salman Ali too but that would be mostly because of his viral ‘jugalbandi’ videos on social media. In short, the show has probably lost a good part of the initial charm it started with.
However, Indian Idol has now stoked a new and bizarre controversy which might extend its shelf life for a couple of weeks. Amit Kumar, singer and son of the legendary Kishore Kumar, was invited as a guest on the show recently. Apparently, he wasn’t happy with the quality of the singers and chose the Times of India to vent his frustration. He told TOI, “Frankly, I wanted to stop the episode.”
He also said, “I did what I was told. I was told ‘sabko praise kamana hai’. I was told ‘jo jaisa bhi gaaye usko uplift karna hai’ because it’s a tribute to Kishore da. I thought it will be a homage to my father. But once there, I just followed what I was asked to do. I had told them to give me portions of the script in advance, but nothing of that sort happened.”
As expected, it didn’t go well with the people involved with the show. Lyricist Manoj Muntashir, who was filling in for one of the judges in the ongoing season, was quick to point out Amit Kumar’s error in judgment. Muntashir said, “If Amit Kumar came out and lashed out at the show, he shouldn’t have agreed to be a part of it in the first place. He took money for being a part of the show and then criticised it. I wouldn’t have done what Amit Kumar did. If I was in his place and not comfortable with the proceedings, I would have told the makers that I don’t want to be a part of the show.”
The operating words were ‘took money’ here. I, for one, didn’t know that guests come in exchange of money on reality shows. I might be living under the rock but I always thought it’s either for a film’s promotion or a goodwill gesture. After all, the guests are also part of the same fraternity and why wouldn’t they want to witness budding talents? Also, isn’t it a goodwill gesture on their as well as the makers’ part? The guest’s face value remains intact and the makers get a respectable name. Simple give and take. But then came the money part which has the potential to entirely change the dynamics.
Meanwhile, came the episode dedicated to the late composer Shravan Rathod. Kumar Sanu, Anuradha Paudwal and Roopkumar Rathod were invited as guests. The host Aditya Narayan took a sly dig at the guests and asked them whether they were asked to praise the participants. To which, Kumar Sanu replied, “They are really great singers and performed amazingly. All of them could pass off as playback singers right now. I have never seen so many talented people on one reality show. Each one of them is a heera (gem).”
It was a way of demonstrating that everything is normal on the show and the makers have moved on from Amit Kumar’s comments, but it’s not like that. The debate is still there: Was Amit Kumar right in going by the instructions? Did he do the right thing by opening up to the media?
One by one, the first part, if he has been paid to be on the show then in a way, he complied with the rules set by the makers. They both should have discussed their respective clauses. Amit Kumar was still free to voice his honest opinion, but he chose not to. If he did and the makers edited out that part or stopped him from saying whatever he wanted then he could have a stronger case. But he complied.
Here, it is important to hear what singer Sunidhi Chauhan has to say. She told ETimes, “Not exactly this that everyone had to do this, but yes, we all were told (to praise). That was the basic thing. And so, I couldn’t go on. I couldn’t do what they wanted and I had to part ways. Hence, today, I am not judging any reality show.”
It’s a fair stance. The guests are not forced but paid. These are two different things.
There is another old Indian Idol video going viral in which Sonu Nigam is criticising former contestant Rahul Vaidya in no vague words. Nigam is pointed, defined and precise. Basically, the judges could say whatever they felt like the contestants. The basic nature of the show hasn’t changed, and thus it’s not wise on Amit Kumar’s part to not say the exact things he wanted while on the show. None of the celebrity guests are unaware of how to politely present their point of view.
Also, it was a celebration of Kishore Kumar’s career, and it should be taken in that spirit. There have been guests who sang with the contestants and corrected them during performance, so Amit Kumar could have been a little more tactful. That answers the second part, no?