The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mumbai crooner bags Idol crown
Abhijeet: Golden voice

Mumbai, March 5: The national craze called Indian Idol came to an end today, with Abhijeet Sawant getting the crown.

Even as the other contender for the throne, Amit Sana, gasped in exasperation as the comperes dragged the suspense over announcing the name, Abhijeet looked more composed, but broke into a happy smile when his name was finally called out.

Mumbai, Abhijeet's hometown, erupted in firecrackers. The city waited with bated breath for the results, with even a notice coming up in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, where Abhijeet's father works, to vote for Abhijeet.

SMS messages erupted, too. An avid watcher of the programme, who was backing Amit so far, accepted his defeat gracefully. 'I feel Sawant is magnanims & so desrvs d status gvn. Am happy 2. Sana rocks, Sawant rules,' she typed, sending the message to her co-watchers whose active participation had made Indian Idol the biggest talent search show on Indian television, with TVRs hovering between 8 and 9 over the past six weeks or so.

Abhijeet gets a three-year contract with Sony Entertainment Television, where the show was being aired, a Honda City car and a trip to Switzerland for a week with family. Amit, from Bhilai, gets a contract with Sony, too, the details of which were not disclosed, and the trip to Switzerland.

The limelight is very different to what Abhijeet's life before Indian Idol kicked off in October last year. Resident of a middle-class locality in Sion, Abhijeet had joked that his father was on the verge of giving up on him. He was not interested in academics; he was not good for much else either, he claimed. So he joined his uncle's orchestra troupe as lead vocalist and participated in shows in and around Mumbai. They were not anything like Indian Idol, but very small ones ' shaadi parties or such events.

The rest of the top 10 contestants, other than Amit, are getting offers for live shows from all over the world and from Bollywood.

Sony culled a total of 3.77 crore-odd votes through SMS for the event, a record. About reports ' especially after contestant number three Rahul Vaidya was voted out ' that suggested that the voting process through SMS could be manipulated, especially by bookmakers with heavy betting on the outcome, Sony said that the system was part of the format of the international model and unalterable.

'The show is telecast in 29 countries and we will not change the voting system,' said a Sony spokesperson. 'It's an expression of popular choice,' she added.

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