In part 1 of this post I shared my experience and incidents which made me really wary to again go for the auditions in 2011, but nevertheless, the unfaltering respect and love for singing/music energized me back to face another round of mishap and well, more politics now!
One good thing what I heard this time was it is not a district level selection as how it went on two years back- this made me thoroughly encouraged and hopeful that the mistakes are learnt quickly by the management and they wanted promising new talent (Both in good quality and quantity!) .
Thanks to the increased exposure in singing stage shows in the past two years and the growth of contacts who are singers and instrument players all the same, I wanted to make sure there wont be any wrong from my side as far as song selection is concerned. Selecting a rare song isn’t a crime but in going for audition for music programmes (Not only Padutha teeyaga but any other one too!) it is definitely a minus factor!
Owing to the good suggestion of one of my singer friends, who is well-established in Playback singing – I chose to sing a popular melody based song ( I did not give up the idea of singing rare songs, But decided to save them for the final music show) Manasa Thullipadake from Sreevariki Premalekha. The logic behind my friend’s suggestion was, if the crazy work of selection is done first, then the singer would have lot of freedom and choice to select what he/she wants in the later stages of the show (I was proved later that even this was wrong!).
This time, confidence about the song selected as well as the good-will of the music fraternity which I gained in the past two years, I was positive about some good thing happening again at this platform. Well, there were people who even questioned me why to go for a competition while I am already giving stage shows at good detail, the answer is well-known to me. It is simply respect for S.P.B garu and his songs along with a long lost faith in the brand “Padutha Teeyaga” which established during the late 90s!
It was the same scene again with the management person giving an application form to fill up and in turn take the token number and wait for my chance to sing. Though I was there in time (9 AM Sharp), there were already more than hundred people (along with their parents and some even came with their music teachers this time!) in queue. I was once more amazed with the brilliant name and the unfaltering faith in the programme by every young aspiring singer in AP!
Oh, I did not speak about the venue at length till now! If people who are not aware of Saradhi Studios think it is a very comfortable place to sit in, they are mistaken! The actual studio is nothing but an age old set (Which rarely has functioning fans and lights) and whoever comes for the audition has to wait outside the studio. The channel people do arrange some chairs for people to sit in, but either half of them are broken or the remaining half is already occupied by people (and their bags- to save seats for people to come!). A scary shamiyana covers this setting. I call it scary because instead of protecting the people from sunlight, it looks as if it will fall down anytime challenging our senses!
More terrible state is for the people who come from out station for the audition. They hardly have breakfast (Some people cleverly get their tiffin boxes to the venue and have there itself!) or they are totally new to the city. I was shocked with visuals of aspiring singers who record the songs they want to practice in audio cassette (Yes, they still exist!) and play them in Walkman, and hear in those big old headphones. Their innocence and blind faith is terribly dampened by the management and the people out there who decide their singing fate in less than a minute!
While last time it was five people at once to be called in the studio, this time it was ten at once. With a thumping heart I went inside the studio when my name was called and my heart sank. It was the same judge (The singer who auditioned me two years back) with the same expression of disinterest yet again. I tried to stay calm while hearing his unnecessary comments on the singers who sang before me ( I still don’t know why most of the judges in these competitions talk with such contempt and ego- as if they are the only people who know about Telugu Film Music!) .
Right on time, my name was called and when I started singing ( This time there was no surprise about the song selection because no telugu person can afford to miss this song!). But the facial expression of the judge reflected that he wanted to find some fault or other now. By the time I finished the pallavi he carelessly ( I think he is careless 24/7/365!) asked why I am not putting the taalam (tempo measurement of what I sing) while I was singing. Any musically inclined person would know that taalam doesn’t mean explicitly showing on the face of the judge while one sings. If confident, it can be mentally counted and made sure that the song doesn’t go out of rhythm. Next came the most ridiculous question of all time. He asked “Are you learning Carnatic music?”. When I said yes to it, he started off a lecture saying taalam has to be shown, and it cant be counted mentally and so on.
It was at that moment I strongly got a feeling that he was just trying to be smart enough so that the participants will not take him for granted during the audition process!
Sometimes I really don’t understand why one has to wait for the simplest of the work to be done needlessly. Let it be a Post- Office, Bank, Bill Payment, Railway Reservations and so on. The waiting for something worthwhile is definetly not a problem but purposeless waiting? Even a non-MBA graduate can have the obvious thought that the already selected singers from the first round can be further scrutinized by other judges in pipeline instead of making them wait for hours together.
Why am I talking about waiting here all of a sudden? Because I was made to wait for two hours to just know whether I am through the 1st round or not and further five hours to finally get a chance to sing in the 2nd round. The wait also looks so meaningless at a point of time for the reason – Nobody cares to inform the participants whether to wait at the venue for a definite duration of time or when the second round would commence.
The wait went on like forever until 1PM and then after a quick lunch (If its not quick the danger of being called suddenly by the management can also happen!). The number of participants who came for the first round was increasing eventually and the already selected singers (about 30-40 by then) were waiting without understanding why this wait goes on.
In the meantime, there were some rumours going on about what possible songs would be asked by the judges in the second round by some singers around. The participants were so involved about the programme that, by the moment somebody says the word “Folk Songs”– they were frantically looking for songs in that genre referring to the lyric books or searching in their iPod/mp3 players. All in all, an examination atmosphere built up there leading to increased tension to the participants as well as the people who accompanied them.
My mom joined me during the afternoon to see what exactly is happening and there were some singers who were “trained” specially by some teachers on how to sing film songs. I was told that these teachers train students only for Film songs and playback singing but not any other Classical Music at all.
Business takes new directions as time passes by- I thought seriously!
The wait went on and on and on until 4:30 PM, by then all the selected participants must have rehearsed atleast hundred songs in total, varying in genres. There was rainfall in between which made people occupy a small abandoned room that did not have chairs to sit either. I must say if this audition is a test for Singer’s musical talent, it is equally a test for the accompanying people in the waiting department!
Finally after 11AM in the morning when I sang for less than 1 minute for the first round, I entered the same studio again at 4:30 PM along with my fellow selected participants there. After settling down in the respective seats, there was a murmur among the participants again asking what possibly the judges might ask to sing this time.
A literal shocker came to me from a girl who sat next time be in the form of questions like “What is meant by Folk Song?” “ What is Shruthi and Scale” . I was totally in loss for words thinking how could people like this come for such prestigious Music talent show in AP!
The second round of auditions started at 5PM finally, where the same judge along with another person started playing around with the participants in every mean way possible. The most annoying thing was the presence of the programme director, who doesn’t know a bit about music but suggests every little thing to the singer in a very demeaning and insulting manner.
I strongly felt was this an influence from reality shows and Indian Idol where the judges literally “grill” the participants and eventually make them cry out of despair?
Some girls were asked to sing a new song, an old classic and a folk song in varying scales and cleverly enough, some of them were trying to make things up without knowing about what the judges asked. Even if the singer sings perfectly the judges find a fault. Will they ever leave people who do stuff like this? Definitely not!
When my turn arrived, the judge coolly asked to sing a fast tempo song. When I started off singing “Rojalo” (Gharshana) he dismissed it saying it’s not fast composition leading me into shock. After a thunderous attack of questions regarding scale, song, tempo changes and everything available in a very demeaning manner, I was hugely relieved that the round is over – not that I would be selected but this craziness for the day has come to an end!
Any audition or music competition selections should be at ease for both the singers as well as the judges but it should not be like a pain in every respect or something done out of force…sadly I was feeling the latter once this selection process was finished then.
I was enormously relieved when the management people said the result would be intimated by phone call, and there is no further waiting needed for the day. Without looking back again at the studio premises, I came off to home and it was then I realized how much I was exhausted- Physically and Mentally!
Little I knew by then that I would be selected in the 2nd round- more for the trouble and less for the pleasure!
To be continued in part 3..