Sing and shine

Mini Mathur, co-host of

Mini Mathur, co-host of "Indian Idol".  

WHEN PORTUGAL'S Nono Morte entered the final rounds of the Pop Idol contest in the United Kingdom in 2003, many grew envious, as he was a street singer. But within a few seconds he had 14 million viewers voting for him, and the audience giving him a standing ovation. Similarly, seeing Michelle from Britain on the stage among contestants, many laughed quietly as he had a stammer while speaking. "But his flawless, charismatic song brought tears to the judges' eyes. Both were obviously the jury and audience's choice." These are the impressions of Patrick Schult from Fremantle Media of the U.K. And this is the kind of singing talent combined with looks that the Indian Idol contest is all about, presented by Sony Entertainment Television in collaboration with the U.K's Fremantle Media, besides Miditech and Optymistix production houses from India.

Indian Idol is based on the U.K's highly successful reality entertainment Idol series on TV, claimed to be a hit in 25 countries with 110 million viewers, 200,000 contestants and over 50 million audience votes, and to have turned 33 talented singers superstars overnight.

The month-long registration for the contest begins on August 20 at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ludhiana, Indore, Kanpur and Gurgaon. Auditioned in theatre, piano and gala categories, 10 finalists out of 100 will be chosen by a jury and the audience as Sony Entertainment shows the contest live in October this year. Aman Yatan Verma and Mini Mathur will anchor Indian Idol.

The announcement in Mumbai's Taj Mahal hotel was nothing short of a blast, with the jury comprising Anu Malik, Sonu Nigam and Farah Khan present. "I will choose a person who will have the voice of a Lata Mangeshkar and face of Madhubala, proclaims Anu Malik. Farah says, "I will not go for looks but only voice," while Sonu Nigam prefers "one with a positive attitude blended with calibre, who can balance both high and low octave with remarkable ease." And the contestants should be ready for on-the-face remarks by the judges. "Those who have no calibre, I will tell them, `You don't have it in you,'" declares Anu.

The stakes

"The finalist will get a chance to cut an album by Sony, a one-year contract worth one crore rupees for stage shows, etc. with royal treatment through cash and kind," says Tarun Katiyal of Sony. The jury was decided after vigorous discussion among Sony and partners. Why not music wizards like Naushad and O.P Nayyar for a jury?

"Because they are young and are high on the contemporary music horizon. The talent hunt too is aimed at the age group of 16 to 35. We are not looking for talents in classical singing," reasons Niret Alva of Miditech.

"Let's face it. Naushad Saab will not be able to help them in their careers now. While Anu is dominating the music scene in Bollywood and will continue to do so for 20 years more to come. He can not only give them a chance, but also help them build their careers," asserts Farah.

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