The making of a super singer

The live audeince  

“Claps and music!” echoes the voice of show director R.K., and the live audience stirs up the arid studio atmosphere with clockwork precision. Hosts Ma Ka Pa Anand and Priyanka Deshpande leap on stage in close-to-zero prep time after a throat-soothing cucumber snack, and proceed to recite their animated opening line for the fifth time. Five-year-old Angeline starts belting out a song, even as a towering group of adult dancers backs her. Handpicked from a pool of at least 12,000 contenders, she maintains her unflinching stance, despite not understanding the lyrics she sings. The other contesting juniors — 5 to 14-year-olds — who usually find sitting through a movie difficult, patiently go through a full day, shooting up to five episodes, besides attending voice training sessions under Ananth Vaidyanathan, long-drawn rehearsals, and completing unfinished piles of school work.

This routine repeats for 40 weeks before a finalist can even be confident of clinching the title and the promised villa house in Vallakkottai. With around 200 episodes aired like a drama series every night on weekdays, Star Vijay’s Airtel Super Singer Junior is a marathon for both its show-makers and live audiences, who are really the family members of the contestants. And show director R.K. thinks that is what makes the show “reality TV.”

“Filmed across 10 months — this is why you can actually see these singers grow,” she says, adding, “especially when what they did in the last round can’t be repeated in the next because of the change of song theme.”

Ma Ka Pa, who’s already hosting his third season of Super Singer, testifies to the strict regimen required for the competition. “There are two days of rehearsals where the time and energy of the orchestra, contractors, and judges are expended. But when they finally stand on stage to sing for the version that’s to be broadcast, it’s a single take. No second chances.”

Season 2 finalist Srinisha Kuyil recalls that although there are times when the shoots go on till 3 a.m., the entire experience has been “very thrilling.” Her mother, J. Sujatha, describes her full-time devotion to making her daughter a star as a “duty” and “not a sacrifice.” These sentiments are echoed by Mercy Judes, mother of Top 7 finalist Jessica, who gave up her job at IBM, Canada, and kept her daughter away from school for a year, so she could prepare for the competition. It’s an even greater effort for parents of younger contestants like Angeline and Season 2’s Srikanth, who’d help their children memorise the lyrics and choreograph the moves for their weekly performances. Due to this regimen, the then 7-year-old Srikanth even bagged a place in the Guinness book of Records for singing 110 songs continuously for seven hours, months after he was crowned ‘Most Popular Performer’ at the show.

Show judge Malgudi Subha reveals that many youngsters contest to fulfil “the aspirations of their parents, not knowing what the stage is all about.” They only begin to accept the gruelling practice schedules after they see what the stage has to offer towards showcasing their talent, as well as the opportunities they get in and out of the studio.

Industry players feel shows like these help identify and hone talent. “Whatever is performed live gets telecast – every small mistake gets spotted on TV. But, eventually, these get rectified and the singing acquires a professional edge. That’s why music directors prefer singers from these shows,” says renowned playback singer, K.S. Chithra, who happens to be a judge on the show.

And the competition is not seeing signs of slowing down with the last season’s finale receiving some 30 lakh votes directed towards the Top 5 contestants. Pradeep Milroy Peter, who conceptualised the Super Singer programme, says TV ratings are far higher than during earlier seasons, adding that the competition has grown to another level. “I’ve seen at least four rejected contestants train themselves during the season’s lull periods to get back into the arena,” he says, citing Srisha, a Top 10 finalist, this season, as a successful example. “Unlike four years ago, the kids are more prepared and competitive today.”

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Printable version | Oct 10, 2021 2:08:11 PM |

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