And so, at last, Idea Star Singer Season 4 has ended! The finalists are able to relax and not worry about the next song. The live show that started at dusk ended at midnight with lots of surprises thrown in, Sunday last.

Joby John finally got the coveted Rs. one crore villa. And Sreenath, Rs.10 lakhs, while Preethi Warrier, third place, got Rs 5 lakhs. Anju Joseph won Rs. 2 lakhs while Vidhya Shankar got Rs 1 lakh. Of course, they all got assorted gifts from many sponsors. Now what?

“For a year, they are on contract with Asianet. They will sing for Asianet programmes and Asianet will also help their careers by checking out whether offers that come are genuine,” says B. S. Praveen Kumar, Chief Manager, PR and Telecast Coordination.

Everyone is happy that Joby John, became the winner, with his clinching song, ‘Parayaan maranna…' in the last round, but how come Sreenath, who was a consistent performer and never once got into the elimination round did not get it? Well the rules are clear, says Praveen. “We wanted the best singer to win and that is why 95 per cent of the marks scored by a participant were added to only five per cent of the total SMS received,” he explains. After the first two rounds, though Preethi got the lowest number of votes, she stood first and Sreenath came second. Joby stood third, despite his chunky votes. But in the last round, Preethi got the lowest marks and Joby stood the winner, earning 95 marks for the moving ‘Parayaan maranna…' Despite getting over five lakh votes, his SMS marks were only 3.8. So, even with the judges' marks, he would have won.

‘Parayaan maranna…' the number that Hariharan sang in the movie ‘Gharshom' is one song that Joby John will never forget. “I started and ended the Star Singer yatra with this song,” says a happy Joby. He sang the first few lines of this song for the audition at Kozhikode and the full song to win the villa!

Life and friends

“The other most memorable song in Star Singer is ‘Mayamayooram…' for I was very depressed then and gave the song 100 per cent. I was going through a very bad phase and I told myself that I simply had to win this contest. My confidence grew after that.” Joby, 27, from Kuttiadi, has had several ups and downs in his life, studying in several schools, and getting a degree in Economics from Madappally Government College. “I used to sing at ganamelas, and was associated with several groups. Dinesh, who is my friend and a singer and Laljith and Reghin helped me so much. They took care of everything. And I got so many votes because common people like me loved me and wanted one of their kind to win,” says a visibly moved Joby. The bigger victory that Joby earned is the confidence to speak, he says, for he was always diffident and Star Singer changed all that. But he has a lament: “I wanted to touch SPB's feet, talk to Kavya Madhavan, but nothing was possible after that, with people all around me.” Joby has already got a couple of playback offers.

Sreenath, who was exceptionally good throughout, but missed the top slot, is a thorough optimist. “I was disappointed for a short while, but I don't carry such baggage along. I move on. There is a movie which M. G. Sreekumar is producing and I am acting in that, along with Vidhya Shankar and Rahul,” says Sreenath. Nayanthara and Prakash Raj may also be in it, he says, with a glint in his eyes. He loves taking risks, as all his song selections show. But not once did he flounder, the kind of guy who will give you a ‘minimum guarantee' for anything. He got 89 marks, the highest for the ‘kutcheri' round. Though he mimics Vijay, in the movie he has been promised, “I will have my own style, my own identity” says the 22-year-old with oodles of confidence, who has offers from the Tamil industry to sing in films. He is a Mohanlal fan and there is no heroine he likes better than Shobhana. “Cinema is my passion, but singing will always be there.”

Preethi Warrier from Mumbai is into retail management but would now concentrate on singing. She has already sung a song for ‘Oru Naal Varum', but it is not in the film, only in the CD, she says. The chirpy girl has unexpectedly got a film offer but singing is what she wants in life and “maybe studying to be a journalist,” she hopes. “Entering this dream world, as she calls the entertainment industry, is indeed a joyful experience she says. The learning experience of it all is bigger, handling defeat and learning to speak in public are the fringe benefits.

Music as a career

Anju, fourth in line, also feels the same. She is planning to take her exams and continue her degree course. “I want to learn Carnatic music and perform ‘kutcheris', says this native of Kanjirapally, who says she is going to spend the bulk of her prize money on treats for her friends. Vidhya Shankar, the married contestant is disappointed to a certain degree but happy to be one among the five finalists. The Palakkad guy settled in Chennai always sprung a surprise with some original lines in most songs, which helped him, he feels. He has already sung for a movie. Vidhya has hardly done any stage shows earlier. He was working earlier in a bank but he prefers to make singing his career now. He is considering anchoring offers also.

And the reality show saga continues even as soaps have taken a back seat. The urge to see people displaying private emotions on screen or committing gaffes is perhaps what makes people sit glued to the TV to watch reality shows. How much of it is real and how much doctored, is unclear, but they seem better than mindless tearjerkers any day. But reality shows manage to get that under privileged crowd puller to help make the TRP ratings soar.

Now, switch on the TV for the next reality show!