'Indian Idol' gets into gala mode for the final stretch

MUMBAI: Lights! Camera! Music! The countdown to find the Indian Idol gets down to brass tacks as it were!

After months of combing through singing hopefuls throughout the country Sony's music based reality show Indian Idol has entered the last stretch. 11 finalists have been chosen and from tomorrow 23 December at 9:30 pm one of them will get eliminated. While the Thursday episode focusses on the Gala the news of who is out will be announced on the Friday episode.

The one who gets the fewest votes will be shown the door. Last night shooting for the first gala round took place in Famous Studio in downtown Mumbai albeit after a huge delay. The elaborate set constructed by Optimystix saw 11 screens in the background. The colour of the screen kept changing depending on the mood of the song.

Speaking on the initiative Sony executive VP programming and response Tarun Katial said, "Now that the country has chosen their 11 finalists the ultimate clash in the Gala episodes will see the excitement and draam soar. We have made the countdown even more exciting and appealing for the viewers with a lot of fanfare, glamour and surprises."

Each gala round has a different theme. The first theme was 'Your favourite song'. One of the finalists Amit Tandon was a lucky loser. That is because Priyanka opted out of the competition. Having to chose between pursuing a dream and studying for her exams in the academic laden atmosphere of India she chose the latter. Her decision was greeted with a loud chorus of boos from the audience.

Yet another contestant Aditi was laid low with chicken pox. However through an audio visual she expressed hope of being well enough to participate in the next episode. While the cutting wit and sarcasm of American Idol judge Simon Cowell was missing the judges Farah Khan, Anu Malik and Sonu Nigam did not hesitate to admonish the contestants if they felt that the performance was below par.

In fact the last contestant Ravinder Ravi got a dressing down from Nigam. "You sang the entire song in one note. That too was false from start to finish. The unfortunate part is that even now you are not aware of what you did. This is by far your worst performance on the show so far."

While the first contestant Rahul Saxena fared better by getting the crowd moving to a bhangra tune Malik wondered why he chose this particular tune. "You have such a nice voice. Perhaps another tune would have been a better fit for your ability."

Malik was also less than impressed with the lucky loser Tandon even though he sang a tune that Malik had composed. Malik told him that with his good looks he should try being an actor first and then think of taking up singing as a profession. Tandon replied by explaining that he was trying to project his romantic side through the song.

The participants have also cut a music video which will air next week. During rehearsals the star of Sony's show Jassi Jasmeet Walia paid them a surprise visit. Another AV showed the aspiring singers bonding together and having fun on Juhu beach playing cricket, football. Future episodes will see more celebrity walk ins as well as workshops with Indian pop icons.

Meanwhile Marathi theatre and film personality Sandeep Chonkar tried to keep the spirits of the crowd up during the delay in starting the show. "Amitabh's surname is not Bachchan. It is Srivastava." As has been reported earlier by the winner of indian Idol walks away with a Rs. 10 million contract with Sony.

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