Fate or Talent?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Just read that Sandeep Acharya, from Bikaner, Rajasthan has become Indian Idol 2 beating NC Karunya, from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. I have been following this programme for quite some time now and I shamelessly concede that Karunya is a much better singer, both technically and in terms of his versatality.

Sandeep's voice starts and ends with Udit Narayan! He is a good singer, but not a brilliant singer, which I think Karunya is! Sandeep also does not have the range of Karunya nor does he have the technical depth! One on one Karunya is a much better singer! Karunya sings everything from Classical Carnatic to Punjabi Bhangra with equal ease, with everything in between! Even while singing songs of playback singers, Karunya can change his modulation to suit the style of many singers! Be it the 'josh' of Kishore Kumar or the 'pagalpan' of Sukhwinder Singh or the melodiousness of Sonu Nigam! My favorites are 'Kawa kawa' and Manna De's 'Jhanak Jhanak baaje paayaliya' which I think represent the two extremes of Hindi Music or for that matter Indian Music!

Sandeep was consistently in the top 2-3 while Karunya time and again, to the surprise of the judges and his supporters, almost always managed to come in the bottom 2-3. It was never a secret as to whom the judges preferred, they time and again openly said that they though Karunya is a better singer! In addition, it was Karunya's choice of songs that left every one asking for more! He had consistently chosen difficult songs to sing while Sandeep always chose the easy wasy out singing more popular numbers without really experimenting too much.

But Karunya has come a long long way since the first episode! Consider this: Hindi is not his mother tongue, he is from a state which has a very strong vernacular film industry. I am myself from Andhra and I can vouch for the 'film craziness' of andhrites! We are fed on a staple diet of Telugu songs and movies since childhood! An average Andhrite is probably a better speaker of Hindi than any other South Indian with the exception of probably Kannadigas, but still its not easy to learn, forget mastering 3 different languages! He starts with an obvious disadvantage because of these factors...I still remember the legendary Javed Akhtar telling Karunya how to pronouce 'khayal' and 'khwab' while agreeing that such intricate things are probably difficult for an average South Indian to keep in mind!

So was I surprised with the result? Disappointed yes, but Surprised No! Because for quite some time now, somewhere at the back of my mind, I knew that with the voting system and its patterns of late, Sandeep stood a better chance! Is it regionalism? Is it North vs South? Is it the fact that down South, because of the strength of regional TV channels, Indian Idol or for that matter any Hindi Channel is not watched as much as it is watched in North or West? The arguments and counterarguments will go on, as will the 'what if' questions! What if Anuj Sharma who was voted out after the piano round had not come back because another finalist dropped out? Dont forget that this 'turn of fate' led to him displacing Amey Date going into the final 3, once again due to curious voting. And there was a mini riot after the judges walked out in protest disagreeing with the decision! So what if Amey wasnt voted out and instead made it to the final three along with Karunya and Sandeep!

But as quite curiously everyone from the judges to the hosts kept 'hinting', I think 'fate' won over 'talent'! There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Karunya has serious talent, one which the industry cannot afford to ignore! He has all the qualities of a good play back singer and there is no question that music directors will be quite excited by his talent! In one way, its probably a blessing in disguise for Katunya! Without the tag of Indian Idol, he is not bound by any contracts to Sony Music! He is quite free to pursue his own career which I am sure will take off the moment the dust settles over the excitement of Indian Idol!

Just to prove that Indian Idol is not everything, Abhijeet Sawant performed at the end of Idol 2 finale and he gave an absolutely pathetic renedition of RDB's title song, which I am sure made A R Rahman the music director and Daler Mehndi the singer choke over their dinner, if by chance they were watching! I may sound cliched, but votes and hype can never beat pure, unadulterated, exciting and real talent, which Karunya has in abundance!