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Since 1st March, 1999
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The girls and their guide
- Alka Yagnik and her little champs

You have done some shooting already with the contestants on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’ Champs. What is the quality of the talent this time?

Since I am involved with the girls’ team, I know only about the girls. They are pretty good. It all depends on how well they train.

Four of the six girls in your team are from Bengal...

Bengal has produced a lot of talent in music, especially vocals. In the last two editions too, the winners were from this region. When I made the choices I had no clue which cities they came from. I concentrated only on talent and potential. My niece had come for the auditions but as she was not up to the mark I did not allow her to carry on. So it is news to me that four girls in my team are from Bengal!

You have spent many years in the industry…

25 years.

Do you now miss not having had a Li’ Champs when you started out?

True, I didn’t have a platform. But I also started young. At 14, I was doing playback. I did a lot of regional songs and then my first Hindi film was with Rajesh Roshan as composer. But my first hit was Mere angne mein from the film Lawaaris.

Can children be ready for playback after taking part in such a contest?

It depends on the maturity of the voice. I never sang for children. I started out singing for the lead actress straightaway.

You grew up in north Calcutta. Do you find young Bengali singers having trouble with Hindi pronunciation?

Bengalis may speak wrong Hindi but when they sing Hindi songs, they sing perfectly. And if some improvement is required in pronunciation, it is better to work on children than on adults. Children learn faster, so if they are corrected now the lesson will stay with them. Be it pronunciation, be it vocal chords, rigidity sets in with age.

What association do you still have with Calcutta?

I have a lot of family there. So sometimes after concerts I stay back for two-three days. It is my favourite city in India. Calcutta has progressed very fast in a short span of time. It is very upbeat and one of the most updated cities.

Do you still remember any Bengali?

Hyan, mone achhey. Bolun ki bolbo? (smiles)

Was the bickering between Alka Yagnik and Abhijeet at Zee TV’s news conference in Mumbai last Wednesday part of the script? It was quite a sight to see the two, who have recorded many hit songs together, fight over the microphone, with Abhijeet winning most of the time. “Next time someone asks a question, please specify who you want the answer from. Otherwise you know where the answer is going to come from,” an exasperated Alka grabbed the mike and blurted out.

The two are likely to keep fighting on-screen now that Zee TV has unveiled the third season of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’ Champs in a new format (being beamed Friday-Saturday 9.30pm). The two will be mentoring teams of six boys and six girls. This time, the show has a strong Bengal presence with five kids in the chosen dozen being from the state. t2 caught up with two of the kids (the others being Antara, Shalini and Abhigyan) who had been invited to the launch.

Debolina Haldar

From: Baishnabghata Patuli

Student of: Class VIII, Jodhpur Park Girls’ School

How she made it: I submitted a CD of songs to my music school Sur Taranga. Then I was called for the auditions in Mumbai.

A day in her life now: We get up in the morning and do riyaz from 10am to 1pm. After lunch, a teacher makes us practise the film songs we are supposed to sing on the show. My father kept me company till the final auditions, now my mother is with me.

On having to dance on the show: I used to dance once but shifted to singing. It should not be a problem.


ShreyasHi Bhattacharya

From: Krishnagar

Student of: Class VIII, Krishnanagar Government Girls High School

Credentials: I was second runner-up in the 2007-08 version of Li’ Champs on Zee Bangla. It is similar, except that we have to sing in Hindi.

On her absence from school for consecutive shows: I completed studying all subjects in 15 days before my annual exams and came third. I can manage.

What she misses: Phuchka, meat cooked by my mother. Here we are kept on a vegetarian diet. We are served things like soup and fruit juice. Rich food is a no-no as indigestion may affect our voices too.

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