India Inc. puts up a great show on ‘CEO’s Got Talent’

MUMBAI: Mid-life crisis is nothing unusual. Whether it’s a middle-class executive or the chairman of a company, there comes a time when one just can’t ignore but go through the crisis that has struck. What could be the possible solution to overcome the phase? A vacation? Time off from work and family? Or something so differentiating that the meaning of your life changes?

At the age of 40, the CEO of Kaytek Computers Pvt. Ltd Atul Khatri was going through this phase of his life when he decided that he would learn bartending. A fairly new talent for him. His bad luck: the bartending teacher didn’t appear for the first day’s class. He could have given up the idea of doing something exceptional but not so soon. He performed a stand-up act at an open mic venue. Surprisingly, he was liked and there has been no looking back.

This is the story of Khatri, who in the last few years has discovered and only improved in the talent of being funny on stage. With his rib-tickling performance, he ended up winning the coveted trophy of CEO’s Got Talent on Friday night. The show by FremantleMedia India is a corporate initiative under the Got Talent franchise that brought together the mavericks of the corporate and entertainment industry on a common platform.

The gala event witnessed twelve CEO’s of India Inc. battle it out in front of the judges – filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, actor Raveena Tandon and Colors CEO Raj Nayak. The corporate executives, who are mostly seen discussing projects, negotiating deals and taking decisions for their companies presented a completely different face of theirs on this stage.

The evening started with the performance of The Xlantic Group’s chairman David Fischer (the second runner-up), who with the band, The Other People, put up a nice solo performance of a song by Bruce Springsteeen. With his scintillating performance, he set the standard for the competition, leaving even the three judges surprised that in the “garb of a corporate lies such a good singer”.

Fisher says music for him is an universal language that knows no boundaries and after a hard day’s work, it is music that relaxes him.

Surprisingly, not just him, a lot of other corporate honchos find solace in music. And that was the reason that out of the 12 performers, eight sang, one played the accordion and one sang and played the guitar. With this, though the CEO’s Got Talent turned to CEO’s Got ‘Musical’ Talent, no one was complaining as everybody thought it’s a nice initiative to bring to the fore the unknown side of the corporate world.

After the performance of Ajay Chopra, the executive chef of The Westin Mumbai Garden City who “married cooking and singing” as he prepared a palatable seafood platter and sang Dil Ye Mera Tumse Kuch Keh Raha Hai…, Mahesh Bhatt remarked, “It’s a hell of a speed to cook and sing at the same time. Since your hands already know how to cook, you sing and let the cooking happen on its own.”

Raj Nayak, however, was highly surprised by the performance of the winner Khatri. He thought that coming out with something that you like doing without worrying about “others” is a commendable thing. “One of the things we don’t do is follow our passion. We shy and conform to what others would say,” he remarked as the stand-up act by Khatri got a standing ovation.

The first runner-up trophy went to Rich Graviss Products Pvt Ltd executive director and CEO Pankaj Chaturvedi. A great Kishore Kumar fan, Chaturvedi brought back nostalgia as he performed on a classic number.

While Rhythm House’s managing director Mehmood Curmally, the last performer of the evening, didn’t win a prize, but he got a huge applause as he came dressed as Elvis Presley and ended the evening with the famous pelvic thrust of the legendary musician. Even the judges couldn’t control but applaud. Raveena was amazed by the effort that he put in for the performance.  

FremantleMedia India managing director Anupama Mandloi said that the team has got a huge response for creating something like the CEO’s Got Talent. “It has engaged Corporate India and brought forth their fun side for the world to behold.”

Presented by Blackberry Messenger, the proceeds from CEO's Got Talent will go to Genesis Foundation, which provides financial support for life-saving and life-changing medical intervention for critically ill under-privileged children in areas of cancer, cardiac disorder, organ failure, thalassemia and extreme deformities.

The show will go on air on CNBC TV18 on 22 and 23 March, 2014.

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