| Contestants in the talent hunt rip posters at the venue after the auditions were cancelled on Thursday. Picture by Amit Datta
Yet another TV show audition in Calcutta triggered trouble when Zee TV cancelled the first round of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007 barely a few hours before the start of the musical talent hunt on Thursday.
The auditions were scheduled to start at 10 am at Vidya Mandir, on Moira Street, and Himesh Reshammiya was to judge the candidates for the Voice of India.
But from 8 am on Thursday, police started announcing the cancellation of the kick-off auditions for the popular show.
“How could an event be allowed at a 700-seat venue when the application stated that they were expecting 3,000 people'” demanded an officer of Shakespeare Sarani police station, explaining the reason behind the cancellation.
According to police, around 3,000 people had gathered at Vidya Mandir by 7 am. Police played it safe as vandalism had marred the auditions for Sony’s talent hunt, Fame Gurukul, in 2005, when participants went on the rampage protesting mismanagement.
“They did not have the permission and went ahead with just the receipt of their application for police permission,” added the thana officer.
But with just a single hand-written poster pasted on the venue gate, aspiring singers — coming from places as far as Bihar, Jharkhand, Nepal and Tripura — refused to relent and let go the opportunity to book a ticket to stardom.
In the absence of any channel official to clear the air, confusion reigned.
“Are they waiting for Madhyamik exams to end'” asked a girl who had reached the venue at 10 am and was hanging around even at 3 pm, hoping for the auditions to start.
“I have spent Rs 11,000 on this trip. But, my heart cries for the disabled boy who came all the way from Rourkela at dawn yesterday to be the first in the queue, and went away at noon today in tears,” said Sindhu Dasgupta, a contestant from Tripura, clueless despite waiting non-stop for 15 hours.
With Assam’s Debojit Saha winning the crown in the last edition of the talent hunt, the hopes among the participants were high. From Wednesday itself, people had started queuing up in front of Vidya Mandir. They even stayed on overnight, braving police charges.
“A Zee van came twice yesterday to distribute forms. Even at 10 pm, channel officials told us to come back with the form in the morning,” said M.D. Mustaq, from Asansol, who had stayed put since 9 am.
As the officials were missing in action, the participants were seen frantically calling up the show helpline in Mumbai and were asked to call back after four-five days.
“The channel had not expected the overwhelming response for the auditions…. The police had to intervene,” was the official word from Zee.
The last-minute cancellation caused inconvenience to many, but did little to dampen the spirit. “How else can we middle-class people become famous'” said a youngster.