When will all the singing talent unearthed on India's reality shows get their big break, wonder Hiral Gandhi and Suman Gedala, who belong to the class of 2010 at the University of Rochester. Illustration: Dominic Xavier.
I had once sought to become a Bollywood singer. But when I compared my singing skills to those of India's rising talents, I figured I would not stand a chance.
India is full of talented singers and there are so many Indian reality shows where the winner is given a huge sum of money and usually a very big contract to sign for an album.
The shows too make a large sum of money due to their huge popularity.
Believe me, I too am a big fan of these shows, which portray music's importance in Indian culture. India makes a lot of movies every year and each movie has four to five songs. The shows bring famous composers as judges. They are mostly honest in judging the singers based on merit. The way they praise the contestants would make one assume being a singer is the thing to be.
Bollywood still has talented singers from the past. For a movie to be famous, the music has to hold its ground. So the composers obviously like to stick to experienced singers to make their music reach greater heights. Thus, you see, not many reality show stars get chances to sing in films. True, the composers are giving breaks to some of them. I will not bash every Indian music composer and say they just appreciate these singers but do not give them chances, but isn't it time some of these singers got chances in movies?
Debojit Saha, Raja Hasan, and many others who were praised to the skies still struggle to find consistent work.
But these singers from the shows do receive fame and recognition. They get chances to be part of other shows. I believe participation in these shows is opening new doors for some of these highly talented singers.
Some composers are even finding talents abroad. Despite having so much talent in India one would wonder why these composers want to find singers from outside India? This remains to be answered at some point.
One of the leading shows for Telugu singers was Padutha Theeyaga, which was hosted by renowned singer S P Balusubramaniam. Several singers from the show have gone on to sing in films. This show introduced singers like Usha to the Telugu movie industry.
Nowadays, there are so many shows with multiple seasons. This also means many more singers are brought into the spotlight.
What does this mean to the state of the Telugu music industry? There are two scenarios:
First, when there are more chances for singers to participate in competitions, one may think it is easier to win a competition. However, after following some seasons of these singing shows, I have realised that there is an abundance of talent on display; the singers' versatility and skills are remarkable.
Some may wonder if the Telugu music industry is losing its originality and authenticity due to the Westernisation that is influencing Indian music. However, as much as the music may be Westernised, most of the singers have a solid background in Carnatic or Hindustani classical music, which definitely plays a role in their performances.
Krishna Chaitanya, Raghuram, Naga Sahithi and Pranavi, who have sung in a number of movies, have released an album called Samhita. The album is about collectivity and is a fusion of Western and Indian classical music, clearly showing the importance these singers place on their classical background.
Second, seeing that there is such talent in Andhra Pradesh, the next issue is how many of these singers are actually being given a chance to sing in films. At the end of a particular show, a composer may decide to give the winner a chance.
However, with so many seasons one after another, it is very tough to see how those singers will earn fame with the few chances they are given. In Super Singer-5, what I found interesting was the way the participants were chosen. In previous seasons, the singers were mostly chosen on how they sang and if they had any recording experience in movies/albums.
However, in the present season (that is coming to a close), the participants were chosen and assembled in a team. These participants are upcoming singers who displayed potential during the preliminary rounds of competitions. Each team was assigned a leader who has sung in several movies.
For example, Deepu (the one who sang Na Chore from Yamadonga) was one of the team leaders. This concept is really unique as those who have sung in movies and have had their chance will be able to improve as well as earn a bit of fame via a television series while upcoming singers will be able to improve and have a chance in the limelight.
It is really encouraging to see that the media has been instrumental in promoting talent via such competitions. It is nice to encourage these singers and give them the chance and fame they deserve in the industry despite the increase in competition.