Disclaimer: I have no personal grudge against this programme or the concept at all and I hold high respect for S.P.B garu. But unable to constrain what I have gone through this time during the audition process as well as the shooting, thought of putting out here!
Padutha Teeyaga- The name itself holds lot of respect, importance and a proper standard as far as young talent who aspire to become Telugu Playback Singers is concerned. There have been many great singing talents such as Usha, Nitya Santhoshini, Gopika Purnima (Who even had the privilege to sing for A.R.Rahman), Mallikarjun, Smitha (Who calls herself Telugu Pop singer!) and so on, who got the crucial break from this platform. These singers got the right break during the right time through the right people and proper encouragement by the music directors as well. The way a music programme can be hosted was redefined by S.P.B garu during the late 90s when this programme took its inception.
There was an instance where people aged from 6- 80 in every Telugu house watch the programme without fail for the brilliant standard and thorough entertainment it offered as well. The tremendous timing of Balu in trivia about Film Music along with excellent sense of humour, topped with some good words about society and its happenings made the show more special as days passed by.
Even the selection process was so good that only the best of the best singers would come to the face-to-face audition to the studio and only the cream would come on the screen and face S.P.B garu to sing!
I already spoke about the same in my previous post about the wonderful experience of singing in Padutha Teeyaga juniors episode of 1999 and how thoroughly I was scrutinized in every aspect of singing before I could meet the legend on stage.
My immense respect grew along with my age as years passed by and there was sheer disappointment few years later knowing that Padutha Teeyaga has been stopped by the Channel people- not only as an aspiring singer but like many music lovers all over the state.
Though there was another show hosted by S.P.B and the same management later in MAA TV named Paadalani Undhi, I somehow couldn’t relate myself to the show (Maybe due to the big influence of Padutha Teeyaga during my formative years) and owing to the academic pressures I couldn’t concentrate on Music either.
And then during mid 2000s, the concept of Reality shows started like a virus over the state, first affecting dance and then (unfortunately) curbing music field as well. Greatest art forms, such as Music and Dance- which I value immensely were reduced to something like comedy or like emotional melodrama making the audience either totally get engrossed into it or hate the whole concept of watching music related competitions in Telugu!
Then there was a great announcement which came in ETV during 2009 saying that Padutha Teeyaga is going to start its auditions gain for youngsters aged 16-25 – Which made me very happy. I was happy not because the programme will give me another chance to sing, but because it will re-establish the forgotten standards of how a music competition show has to be conducted. But there was a small change this time according to the announcement. Apparently the programme is selected on the basis of Districts in AP and the selections are also done district wise. Though I was wary about this change I was all in all confident that there would be a proper reason for why it is being done!
The big day of the auditions arrived. Me along with my music mate reached the venue and were quite confident that this time we both would do really well in the auditions. Our heart sank the moment we have seen district wise auditions and there were 2000 people for Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy district in total. Why were we so shocked? It is because only one person would be selected per district in the ratio of such big number!
I was amazed by the talent which came over on that day who came just like us relying on the brand “Padutha Teeyaga”. Every singer around us was singing so well and had immense knowledge in Music (Not only film music but also Classical- Both Carnatic and Hindustani). I was only worried seeing what will happen to their spirit and the tremendous talent which they built up due to the unfair strategy of selecting only ONE person out of such huge stream of musical extravagance.
While one guy was singing a great song from the yesteryear Shankarabharnam,as brilliantly as SPB ( I am not exaggerating here. I don’t know why Telugu Film industry looks for other state singers when we have such brilliant talent in AP!), another girl beside me was practicing the toughest ever song from Vani Jayaram (Andhela Ravamidhi- Swarna Kamalam) with all her might. There was unbelievable musical breeze all over with this and the management was what made me upset on that day.
While this stream of talent was on one side, there was the lobbying incidents happening on the other side. Either it is a popular singer who already appeared in some previous show in another channel, who wants to come in this show again- trying to speak to the management biggies out there- to get easy entry ahead of people who are waiting for the chance. And some other people were trying to even get a chance directly to sing on stage, overriding all the audition process!
Amidst all these, I was called inside the studio where a couple of people were waiting for their chance to sing in front of the judge (A very popular singer whose name I would not prefer to disclose here!). The moment the singer starts singing a line, this person interrupts their song (The judge has to realize they are not interrupting the song but the hopes, aspirations, interest , passion, and tremendous love for music and singing!).
I was called to sing right at the moment ( Five singers sang in less than two minutes- How fast is this! And how can the judge decide who is good/bad in such short time- I don’t know!) . Thankfully I was allowed to sing the full pallavi but the judge was clueless about what song I sang also! It was a classical song Suramodamu from Aditya 369 (Which happens to be SPB’s home production film) , and the judge carelessly asks me “From which film is this song from?”.
I was thoroughly shocked and surprised with this question because it is SPB who always tells in the programme that not-so-popular songs from Telugu Films have to be sung on stage so that people will know about them and there will be more versatility to the competition. Is it that the judges already decided which songs have to be sung in the programme- and even decide the audience will receive only such songs which are popular! Will the unpopular but amazing songs will have no way out to the common audience?
Quite predictably, I was not selected for the audition first round itself for no reason whatsoever. Maybe they thought the singer cannot cater to the popular audience’s taste or there is some other “commercial” reason! I mean, two singers out of 2000 ( One for each district selections there) is more thicker competition than Group 1 or a Group 2 examination !!
The twist in the tale is that- other remote districts such as Srikakulam, Nalgonda, Khammam etc had very less people for selection and even a mediocre singer got selected there later! There were clever singers from Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy district who went again to those districts just to get selected easily and succeeded as well.
But do singers have to do all these things in order to attain their goal?
Should they forget practicing to sing and involve in such diplomatic arrangements with the management or try to appease the judges by compromising in song selection?
Should they show something in their singing talent which is not theirs, but an imitation of some popular singer which “would” please the judge or the final audiences!
It is quite shocking but I have seen participants getting dressed up traditionally , NOT because they value tradition (If they did, then they are worth of getting felicitated in Ravindra Bharathi by any popular cultural organization!) but just to please the management (As the management believes in “reviving” lost traditions and values along with good music in it!). Even more shockingly, there were only such people who were through the programme eventually!
Nearly two years passed by, with two more Padutha Teeyaga series (One for Juniors later) commenced and then again an ad comes by- asking aspiring young talent to come for the auditions again to the same place (Saradhi Studios- A studio which will neither improve nor depreciate!) during August of 2011.
Determination has no end- and again I went for the same auditions this time!
Its hope which drove me to it again, and once again same thing (additionally with much more mishap) happened this time!!
To be continued in Part 2 of this post..