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Songs to see

Veteran playback singer Suresh Wadkar, who judged the recently concluded show L’il Champs on Zee TV, talks about kids joining reality shows and what the future has in store for them....

He is a reality show judge who neither insults participants nor engages in ego clashes with colleagues on the show. Yet if a singer’s voice misses a note or falters on tempo he is quick to spell that out, like a true guru. That is Suresh Wadkar for you.

The soft-spoken man with a melodious voice is happy with the results of L’il Champs. The best talent, in his view, won. “Anamika (Chaudhuri) ki voice mein jitni sureelapan hai utni hi woh mehnati hai,” he says of the Assam girl who was crowned on March 1.

The little singers have satisfied his ears but he says their one limitation is that they are more aware of songs from the past 10-12 years. “The old songs are musically heavier. It is when you sing those songs can one make out kaun kitne paani mein hai.

But ask him about the future of the child stars and his face clouds. “Tell me, of all the children who appeared in reality shows before, who do you hear of? Aadhi kachchi umar mein you cannot push them before the camera and expect them to come out as full-fledged professionals.”

Becoming a shooting star is easy these days because of television. “Tik sakta hai ki nahin — that is the real question.

In his long career, says Wadkar, he has seen only two child prodigies — Lata Mangeshkar and Sonu Nigam. “Lataji in my eyes is Ma Saraswati incarnated. As for Sonu, he has been singing on stage with his father since the age of four. And he is the best today. Where is the guarantee these kids will shine like him?”

If the future is uncertain, what is certain is the way normalcy exits their lives. Viewers can make out the difference — fashionable clothes, the hair styling et al. But the judges see much more. “Of this lot, I’d say Anamika has remained the simplest. But generally, the attitude of the children changes. And once they are out of the shows, they start missing the limelight. Unless they can quickly find another platform, it becomes difficult for them to descend to the ground reality. Then, depression sets in,” observes Wadkar.

The bigger horror stories involve the parents. “The parents get more desperate than the kids. They start basking in their sudden stardom.”

And there is no remedy in sight. “Channels will keep doing these shows. A lifestyle will emerge of ex-reality show winners trying to carve out a future.”

Then, the end comes quickly. “For two years, they will be up nights overstraining their voices for stage shows. The damage that happens to their voices woh iss janam mein to theek nahin hoga.”

Wadkar feels that the root of it all lies in the growing habit of “seeing songs” rather than hearing them. “Every song has to be turned into a dance sequence. Even devotional songs are no more about emotions. Humko suntey waqt naachna aa gaya hai. No wonder DJs have more work than actors!

“One day, folks will dance even in funeral processions. Murda bhi uchhalne koodne lagega,” he signs off in a burst of sarcasm.

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