Sunday, July 29, 2007

FAQ Airtel Super Singer Junior

Today was the final telecast of Airtel Super Singer Junior and starting next week it will be the second season of Jodi No 1
This post is also in reply to several comments/mails with regard to Airtel Super Singer Junior. A lot of times, with regard to why I did not sing when everyone else did. I did not feel that as a host, I have to reaffirm that I can sing in a talent hunt for children. Though Chitra ji and Usha Ji kept asking me, I sang for them alone privately and never on stage. Probably the producers also felt that the participants and the children would get restless if I sang.
In the finals, I did not realize in the height of having have to remember what to say that Vignesh was not given an award or anything to that effect, until Dr Balamuralikrishna brought it to my notice and thereafter the general public as well, wherever I go. It still happens, and I guess it will for a quite a while to come.
When I tell people that I have no idea what is going to happen, they do not believe me. Until I wear my make up and go into the set, I have no idea about the concept of what is going to be shot that particular day, how the competition is going to be taken forward, and of course no written script either. I would be given a briefing by the producers and then I ll have to remember as much as I can and blah-blah away. That explains the bloopers and the number of out-takes. There was only so much that I could remember in the last 15-20 minutes before the cameras started rolling. Almost every instruction was last minute, but I presume thats how reality shows are made like.
I have never known which special guest was going to come, like for instance the show where the Wild Card Round winner was announced, I knew that Mr Unnikrishnan had come after we had started shooting and just after I announced the ad break, before the announcement, I came to know that he was the special guest. These were instances when I wished I had more time to prepare to introduce the guest in a better fashion and the fact that I have to watch every word that I say, especially about other musicians and stalwarts. I would have been the happiest person if I had known that Dr Balamurali Krishna was going to come at least the previous day to do some reading up on my own.
The team was very dedicated about keeping their secrets to such an extent that even I never knew what was going to happen until I went to the floors to shoot.
In a similar manner with Airtel Super Singer, I knew only from SPB Sir when he announced that Nikhil Mathew won. The team refused to tell me.
Of course the entire team had too many things to take care of. All this last minute mugging probably did some good to my semantic memory!

And again, I do not know whether there will be an Airtel Super Singer or the Junior Part 2, this year or the next. And I do not know whether I will be hosting that either :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I have ranted about this before, but I sincerely cannot understand the way some people work. I have often seen that when people are behind schedule with regard to translation assignments for our firm, they have a very easy answer, my disk went corrupt, electricity has gone off. And some times when it has genuinely happened to me during the torrential rains in Chennai, and we were off power, I used to cringe with that excuse.
And "Disk Corrupt Salvaging Data" is an excuse that I get a lot of times from the translators here. And a few translators overseas. Of course I get different ones from abroad. like skidding on snow, and very easily a family member 'dies' or gets admitted to the hospital, and of course Blame-it-on-the-PC excuse. And even if the PC excuse were an honest one, I can't but help getting irritated when people fail to keep their word. Or rather, deliver their words in this case.
And thereafter you ask them for a status so that we can ascertain what we should tell our clients, there will be no reply, and their phones will be switched off, and mails not replied to.
Its enraging to say the least.
Arrrrrrgh for wrong work ethics.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bloopers on Airtel Super Singer Junior

I had looked forward to watching them, because more than the out-takes, the way it is edited and the 'counter' dialogues are what makes it funny in my opinion.
In response to mails and the comments on other posts, the voice in the background belonged to Mr Rajkumar, one of the producers in Vijay TV. The voice in the children-s episode belonged to Mr Nelson, another producer. Though they are technically called producers, they are the ones who direct the parents, participants, judges, special guests and finally me. They are also the ones who go to the cities where the action happens days before the event finally takes place, especially with regard to regionals.
And thereafter, visiting the kid's houses in their respective cities, getting their friends and family to speak, and taking care of editing, handling the action while it happens and creative inputs as well. I shall update this post with the pictures shortly to name the brains behind the show.
And more than last time, the out-takes this time were better, probably because I had already worked with this team and camaraderie was better.
I have to shoot 2 more episodes and with that, we will wrap up Airtel Super Singer Junior.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pictures from the Canada Trip

The pictures from my recent Toronto trip are in FlickR. I published from Flickr once. But now I seem to have lost it. How do I get the pics from Flickr on to my blog?

Update: In my Photo Blog.I forgot about the 'Blog This'!

Airtel Super Singer Junior - the curtains draw for now....

Its amazing how much children know. Especially when there is a reality check they understand a lot more between the lines than you do, its funny and surprising at the same time.

Most of the kids at the current level of ASSJ are at the threshold of their teens and they way they size up and make a meal of almost everything that comes their way.... the tenacity and the grit is .. amazing to say the least.
Almost all the children sing really well, and God willing, and especially the children willing, or should I say, the current educational system willing, they have a future in the starry skies of music, to twinkle, or shine or become the sun if they so please.

A lot of times I have had to speak to the kids on camera, trying to engage them in some sort of a conversation, because that is how it is supposed to be. And I must say this has been the most difficult portions in my interaction with them. All of them either have express instructions as to not to speak to me and answer in a word or two, or they its just the way they are made. No matter how much I try asking them, say for example, how do you think the judges are? - Good. How much practice did you put in? - "nerayya"
Do you want to say or ask something to the judges? - "No".

I have heard of children having lots of nice things to say, but probably they are all born careful now. Watching their words in front of the camera. And once they are sure the camera has stopped rolling they become different personalities, laughing, kidding around. I wonder why they don't want to be the children they are and act 35. Soft spoken, watching what they speak.... It has made me wonder whether the children have collectively lost their innocence. In the midst of all this, we had a kid asking for the viewers to vote for her sister so that she can come back to compete in the wild card round, and she said "if you like my sister's singing please vote for her, otherwise, no need". And the same kid, has seen me asking the directors of the show, on which camera on the floor to face, in the plethora that is there in front of me. Apparently she has seen me ask that a lot of times, and when the director told her "action" she asked in all seriousness "which camera"?
Most of the times older people look to children, to reclaim a spark that they have lost, or to just to smile in their moments of gray. As time goes, I wonder whether we will lose the chance to do that as well. And probably, a lot of times, I would probably ask the parents to let their children be their age and not make them act a few decades older.

The judges - Usha Uthup ji and Chitra ji were delightful to be with. Lots of laughter and lots of joy. And lots of goodness. Both of them have been straight forward in what they have wanted to say to the kids and honest as well. In spite of their status in the industry, they floor me with the simplicity they have. And Ushaji's energy is completely matchless. In the otherwise, stoic atmosphere, which I must say was created by the children, she lightened the mood made them laugh and dance and brought out the importance of stage presence, which is completely lacking in the performers from the south of India. Here we have people judging women who dance on stage while singing, you are given a once-over from top to toe, and immediately judged as someone who is not, 'adakkam and odukkam" enough.

Why should the singer not enjoy his own song? Why is the performance repressed in the name of "right behavior", and when the joy does not permeate from him, how will it communicate to the audience?

Usha ji proved that you can bring dignity into any profession that you chose to be in. I daresay that She brought pop-culture to the limelight in India, and you can wear Kanjeevaaram and still rock the cells out of the audience. And am so glad that children who are moulded to be subdued are exposed to someone like her. To be true to your music, how to interact with the musicians and how to generally communicate to the audience, because if you are on stage, you are there for the people and not for yourself. And Usha ji is to mark the contestants on this show for stage presence and overall performance. Chitra ji was marking the contestants on the Pitch and rhythm.
Though she seems to have a strict exterior, she is one of the most soft hearted people I have seen. And every time she used to correct the children, she mutters to herself, that "Oh God, let me always be in tune and in rhythm that I can honestly correct the children" And the times she was asked to sing, she would ask the children "seriya paadinaena?" And ask them to give her marks on pitch and rhythm. She is one of the very very few people who are pitch perfect, a singer who everyone wants to be, everyone wants to sing like. And this was one of the best combination of judges - Usha ji and Chitra ji.

Shooting with Vijay TV is always fun, and much against people saying that we are making the children cry, the channel just captures what goes on. And the facts. Everything is shown as is. And I'd say that this is a reality show that lives up to its name. If scenes were shown of the girl who went and demanded to the Judge who eliminated her from the contest, it shows that the children nowadays question what they feel is wrong, that they are outspoken and no matter how young they are, they speak up for themselves. And some parents encourage such behavior.

And if the children and their parents have decided to take part in a contest of this magnitude, they understand that they have to be prepared for Success and Failure with equal readiness. And this is a learning experience for the ones who are involved, the ones that are part of the show, and the ones that watch it.

As for me, I am richer with experiences and I must admit that I am pretty much surprised most of the times, as should be the feeling with most people.

The finale was an awesome experience giving me an opportunity to share the stage with Dr. Balamuralikrishna. Most of the times I am at a loss of words when I have to 'introduce' a musician of his stature on a show. How much can a singer of my stature and my age say? Questions of this sort have always plagued me on the show, I had the same trouble last time when I had to invite SPB sir on stage for the finale last year, and I have lost my cool, been a bundle of nerves just before the camera starts rolling. This is when the crew supported me a lot. The show, like Airtel Super Singer, has been a super learning experience, albeit a little different.

A question that I have been oft asked, why did I not sing? Because it was not the show's format, the producers did not plan that I should sing in an episode, and I did not want to keep establishing that I can sing, especially in a talent hunt for younger children, as with Airtel Super Singer. When I am a host, I am there to speak and not to showcase what I can sing. There are other platforms for me to sing in, and God willing I will be blessed with such platforms.

Also, that I seem to shout/scream. :) I am yet to learn how to hype up something without shouting. Most of the times the audience just does not react in spite of all this. A quiet presentation sometimes does not work when a lot of energy is needed. But perhaps there is a better way to exude energy in presentation, I watched a few episodes of presenters in Western shows and when it is necessary, the decibel has gone up. I definitely have a lot to learn on that front.

And it was very nice for me to hear the children singing the songs that I have sung.

And I stay thankful to time that gives me these opportunities.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Of late there have been people who have gone all out to say that I can't sing to save my life and I should not have sung Sahana and that I should try and learn to sing, especially in beeped out words and the like. Why am I writing about it? Because I am now wondering why someone would be so vocative in conveying something of distaste. Have things always been this way with people over the years, or is it just that, say in the past 20 years or so people have become highly rude in conveying their dislike to certain things? Have we lost the art of being tactful?
In some cases, the critics on these media have told me, that they write to me in such a manner, only to elicit a response from me.
Just out of curiosity, how well do we remember the person who writes in to us like that? How do we associate with them? Good feeling? Squirmy feeling?
Why is it that we have to be aggressive in putting forth our views? Is it not the conviction in our thoughts and the belief in what we say that makes them communicated to the subject and not aggression? Is it not a poor substitute because we believe that we might not get the expected response from the target?
Have politeness and basic acts of courtesy gone down the drain? What would be the best way to express dislike and distaste to anything?
I still have not come to the state where rudeness towards me doesn't affect me. Probably I ll learn in a few years.
I got a comment from a certain lady in the past couple of days that I have to learn to sing esp with regard to Sahana, and in the turn off-s section in her profile, no points for guessing - rudeness.
Brings me to what has been communicated for a decade or so in every form. That people no longer want to give but want to receive all the time. And the desire to have excellent fruits from the seeds of hate. How in the universe is that going to happen? Not to mention, the lack of tolerance.
When someone is rude to me, should I remain quiet? Should I retort? Should I smile and go? I am told to feel stronger, and these are lessons to that effect.. Actually the time that I spend learning how to feel stronger on such issues, I 'd rather do something more productive, something better than come-back skills.
When I go through the archives of my earlier posts, I see how things have changed in my perception. And somewhere down in time, when I look back upon this post, I ll probably have my own answers to the questions here...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

How to - American Appliances in India

And I got a 1800 watt and 280 watt appliance, blenders to be precise from Canada. I have no idea what kind of converters I should use, if there are any.
I heard about all these step-up and step-down converters. I bought one from nearby, a step-down, and it started smoking. Even after the guy tested the appliance there.
Can anyone help?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

And what a concert!!!

Once in a lifetime thing. I sang about 4 songs in a 24 song SPB KJY show. Chitra amma herself sang only about 5 songs and only one solo in that.
I sang KMI, Sahana, Thesalvudhe thenmalaraale and Ennaatha solvenungo. Was supposed to sing Mayya Mayya, but the audio people did not have an out chord for the laptop, and neither did they have a CD player. The musicians had told me that it was impossible to play that song.
It was probably the first time in 5 years that KMI was properly played by the musicians. This song is always botched up. "Shyaam group" is what they call themselves, but most of the musicians are highly established in the professional music maker's circuit.
I was supposed to sing Thenral Vandhu with KJY sir but since it was pushed to the end of the show he was not keen on singing it after the tempo had picked up to very fast numbers.
The response that we get especially from the Tamils here is out of the world. The monitors for the female voices was pretty bad, but after a point the engineer got a hang of it. Both Chitra amma and I had a tough time hearing ourselves sing before he could.
The Air Canada centre was totally packed - read 10,000+ people. And in an auditorium like that, getting the sound right is a herculean task. But then, most of the times, I have not really had a good monitor.
I gotta learn to get the in-ear monitor, but I tried it once while singing at Mumbai for the Filmfare awards, I wasnt quite comfortable with it.
Yesudas sir and Chitra amma said that my Thesulavudhe was very nice. Chitra amma always goes OTT praising me. She had takena soft corner for me right from the beginning and now, the bond we share is a special one.
I was looking forward to singing with KJY sir, but then I hope there will be another oppurtunity.The run order did not have a song that I could sing with SPB sir, and that was disappointing as well
Sahana - the applause I got was out of the world. Some of the times that I thank God and send him a silent prayer, and a silent thank you to Rahman sir. When I performed KMI first at Nehru Indoor Stadium for the then Chief Minister J Jayalalitha, Rahman Sir's act had Hari ji, a huge battalion of small children singing Vande Mataram and I. And we started with KMI. Rahman sir told me to give a short alaap before beginning with KMI and also told me how to finish, in an unpredictable way. The video is there in this blog and in YouTube to see. As soon as I had finished with the Alaap and started with the song, everyone applauded and did so again at the end. That was goose-bumps-happening time. And I had the same exp last night as soon as I had finished Sahana. I will not say that my rendition was perfect, it was tough to figure out what I was singing becos of the monitors. But in spite of that people went berserk. These are times when a singer gets the reaffirmation as to where the credit really belongs. With the music maker. And the movie.
Kangalal Kaidhu Sei is an excellent album. But except for abroad, people in Tamilnadu don't know of these songs because the movie did not do well. Once we cross the shores, only the music matters to the people here, the success of the film does nothing to the way they relish the music.
Everytime, Rahman sir makes sure that I dont disappear from the scene. He has kept me alive in this industry. Its common knowledge that I have not sung a million songs otherwise. Which is why now, none of the similies for "gratitude" to Rahman sir would quite suffice. Honestly, I have no idea why.
I do not think there will be time to look around this city this time. I have another concert this evening. And we fly back right after.
God willing, there will be another oppurtunity to look around this city.
P.S.: KMI = Kannathil Muthamittaal