Wednesday, May 30, 2007
When the hurly-burly's done, when the battles' lost and won I know,I know,I know.I should have written many days ago. I've had the time and I've had the intention. I just dont know where to start. This gig started off as an innocent karaoke competition. I dont know what it has become. Twelve people, all of who sing as if Kate Moss is headed towards the exit, and only their singing can bring her back. (Hi, Chris? How're you doing?) Twelve people who are singers and performers and divas and are men called divas too? They should be.
See? I have no idea what I'm saying. I told Carlton this would be the worst farewell piece I've ever had to write. Here it is, nevertheless. I couldn't have hoped to end on a higher note. God knows, I can't hit too many. It has truly been an honor and a pleasure to write about all of you.
Abhijit Your first song was very good. You have great range. And I don't know if it was because it was your birthday and you had to make it special, but you pushed yourself and completely raised the stakes. And I loved the costume on the second one! You are already a star. I hope you find many platforms where you can show the world how true that is.
Andy When you started to read your lyrics off the phone, my instinct was to run to you and cry on your shoulder. Loudly. I wanted to bawl. Why did you do that, Andy, why why? Yours was an unmatched performance. You had everything going for you: your voice is, of course, unmatched. You have this shaking writhing fist-clenching performance that has everyone on the edge of their seats. We Are The Champions was the pick of that round, without exception. As was everything else about round 2. Except for that gimmick with the phone. But enough about that. You talent is unparalleled and you need to actively do something about it.
Goo It doesn't matter that you didn't make it to round 2. You should really know that. What matters is you have a very endearing voice and a very endearing personality. I could listen to you sing any old time. I guess you lost out because you were singing in a language you didn't know, and it's hard to emote when you don't know what you're saying. It takes a lot of guts to do what you did. And you pulled it off with more class and Ã©lan that I could have. And I speak the language. Hats off to you. You have my complete respect. And Mr. Braganza's.
Jacob Jacobeeeee! You made the Kroakstars of season 1 very proud. You are leaps and bounds ahead of where you were last year. What a performer you are. I thought your second song was far better than your first one. I am guessing love does things like this. In which case, I hope you stay in love and continue to be the superlative singer and performer you are. Kissy poo!
Jerusha You have an effortless voice and a winning personality. The Mamma Song was simply the best! Which reminds me, Simply The Best was an awesome song as well. When I grow up, I want to sing like you. And oh. You should wear skirts more often. As ZZ Top once said, She's got legs; she knows how to use them. Grin.
Keerthana Song choice. Kiki. Something To Talk About is a great song. But I would never sing it if my vocal prowess was being judged. Why? Because too many people have sung it. And the most disturbingly abiding memory of that song is that nightmarish rendition by Sanjaya. I swear, I still wake up screaming some nights. You have a powerful voice and a natural ability to hold your audience's attention. Do some voice training, lady. Awesome stuff.
Malliga Malligaaaaa! You completely outdid yourself. Talk about being able to push yourself and raise the bar! Initially, I thought Somebody To Love was a very brave choice. I honestly think as few people as possible should pick Freddie Mercury's vocals. Turns out, at least three people from this competition are more than capable. What a performance! And Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend was brilliant. You have a killer voice, but I love the little tweaks you give each performance of yours, to make it special. Brilliant, brilliant.
Mark I stick by my initial reaction to and opinion of your song choice in round 1. You completely rocked I Don't Want To Miss A Thing, but you are capable of so much more than that song can offer. Never mind. Your song in round 2 completely made up for the faux pas! And I counted 832 men and women who were drooling over your performance, so no harm done! You know you're a star. But that will never stop me from telling you over and over again. For my dowry, I want your brother's photography skills.
Pragnya Pragnya, ours has been a long trip to the finals. And you know I rooted for you from the start. With good reason, apparently. Never mind that you didn't make it to the final round. You still did a fantastic job with Aretha Franklin. I hope you keep coming back and singing for us.
Pratik Pratik, I've always only had one complaint about you. It's that you don't sing in your own voice. It's true that whatever you do, it's making you sound great. But spend some quality time in the shower and find your own voice. I heard it for a couple of seconds in your recording on the CD. You should find that superb voice and give it some love and affection. You rock!
What can I say? You deserve all the praise, the awards, the title, the crown and the adulation. With whipped cream on top. Both your songs were outstanding, and both performances, stellar. May you have many many more shows, accolades and admirers. And may Barbara Streisand kiss the ground you tread.
Venkat Venky. You are my other hero. Great performance on Born To Run. I was going to get up and run after you, but realized I'd be out of breath. Sure enough, it happened to you. Small glitch there. Luck Be A Lady was okay, though. Your pitch wasn't bang on at quite a few places, and it would have done you good to learn the words. Nothing more distracting in a performance, than the constant fear that you'll forget your words. But you are still a star. And there are great things in store for you.
Monday, May 28, 2007
THROUGH THE BURGEONING FRAUDULENCE, SOME SHINING LIGHTS
There's a lot about Bangalore that's hyperbole-ridden, if not downright fraudulent. Restaurants described as world-class by writers who one is often tempted to believe haven't ventured too far beyond Chikmagalur. Fashionistas who we are regularly told are putting Bangalore (India?) on the world map, and who then disappear into well-earned oblivion shortly thereafter. A new international airport that is tom-tommed as arguably the most futuristic in the region, before it is slammed as also being, well, boring. And so on.
So when Carlton Braganza tells me the finalists at this year's Opus Idol are as good as anything we saw on the recently concluded America Idol, I ask him who (did I mean What?) he's been smoking lately. But I turn out dutifully at the Chowdaiah Hall to judge the finals nevertheless, much concerned that my reputation, already verging on the flaky, is going to take a hit from which it may never recover. I mean what do I know about songs that shriek and scream and hippety-hop all over the place? I have shoes older than some of those singers, for heaven's sake.
But Carlton was right.
The first thing I hear on entering the hall is a cover version of John Lennon's pithy song Oh Darlin' playing over the sound system. It's totally wonderful and before I can ask who the singer is, CeeBee tells me it's one of the evening''''s finalists. I'm blown away. And I never really recover as, in the course of the next three hours, I discover that Opus and the redoubtable Carlton & Gina team have unearthed gems as deeply concealed, and every bit as precious, as blood diamonds in a Sierra Leonian mudslide.
There will be reams written about that evening, so suffice it for me to say that there hasn't been an evening of such unquestioned local talent on display in Bangalore since I don't know when.
Where on earth did Roopika come from? (Mysore, I was told. And even her husband and father had no idea she could sing, let alone recreate Broadway roles as electrifyingly as she did.)
Who is Andy? How can such a compact body contain the bellows he calls lungs?
Did Jerusha secretly train with Tina Turner? Was Marilyn Monroe as gauche, and delicious, as Malliga, when she first touted Diamonds as a Girl's Best Friend a hundred years ago?
And what could possibly account for Bharat's virtuosity at writing songs in four languages and twenty time signatures, then mixing the sound track himself to perform the whole melange in a hysterical, uncontrolled burst of gloriously demented schizophrenia?
The questions came popping up in my mind with each performance as this passing parade of home-grown kids made that stage their own mesmerising playground. I don't care what the moronic moral police of Fraud City have to say, Carlton and Gina have gifted the young people of Bangalore with an invaluable forum for putting their take on clean contemporary living front and centre.
As I left the Chowdaiah Hall after the show, a thought occurred: If only someone could get the Chief Minister to spend a night at Opus one of these days. He is likely to discover an endangered species just waiting to open his eyes to a future right under his nose.