Idea Star Singer
(ISS) is a popular Malayalam
music reality-television competition, broadcast on the Malayalam TV channel, Asianet
with Idea Cellular Limited
. The show, being aired at 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m (IST
), on Monday to Friday is a hunt for a talented singer in Kerala
from the age group of 15-30 years, who can capture the hearts of millions with the unique combination of singing
Starting out in 2006 on the lines of Indian Idol
, the chief judge was Malayalam music director M. Jayachandran
, while the panel included famous personalities like K. S. Chithra
, M. G. Radhakrishnan
, Tippu, Deepak Dev, Jassie Gift
, Chithra Iyer, and many other pioneers from the field of music
. Co-anchored by singers Afsal and Rimi Tomy
, over 7,000 contestants participated from various states, and the ultimate winners of Idea Star Singer 2006 were Arun Raj
in the male category and Kavita Jayaram
in the female category. The winners received a gift of Rs. 1 lakh, a contract for playback assignments in Jayachandran's upcoming film projects, and a deal with Satyam Audios and doing concerts abroad.
Idea Star Singer 2007 returned in an even bigger and better format, anchored by Ranjini Haridas
, a former Miss Kerala
. The prize was an opportunity to sing in the next project by film director Vinayan
, and an apartment
in Cochin worth Rs
40,00,000. The judging panel featured playback singer M. G. Sreekumar
, music director Sharath, and the renowned Indi pop singer Usha Uthup
. The fourth judging spot featured a celebrity guest who has an importance in malayalam film industry. The 2007 talent hunt was inaugurated by Malayalam superstar Mohanlal
, and more than 20,000 hopeful singers applied to participate in this edition of the show. Only 45 singers were short-listed from the 100 contestants in the preliminary round, followed by an elimination round on TV via SMS
and the decision of the judges. Singers were given special grooming and choreography sessions, and the competition was cut to 10 contestants, and then again to the four best participants, each vying to bag the Top Singer
After the final was held on 19 April 2008, Najim Arshad from Thiruvanathapuram won the competition and bagged the brand new flat from Confident Group. The first runner-up was Durga Viswanath and she was presented with the consolation prize, a Ford Fiesta car given by Alukkas Jewellery group. The second runner-up was Thushar M K and the third runner-up was Arun Gopan. The biggest winner, however, was Idea Cellular Limited as the final SMS round saw over half a million SMS messages to premium numbers.
After the thumping success of Idea Star Singer 2007, the curtain was raised for its successor, Idea Star Singer 2008. Malayalam actionstar Suresh Gopi
, who inaugurated the show, sang a song for the viewers, and there were also performances by M.G. Sreekumar
, P. Unnikrishnan
, and L.R. Eswari
. The inaugural function started with a prayer and song by Najim Arshad, winner of ISS 2007, followed by the competition.
85 contestants will compete in the auditions round to hone their skills, but only 50 contestants will be selected. This time around, two mega prizes will be awarded, one each for a male and female contestant. Each will receive an apartment in either Thiruvananthapuram or Dubai City from Confident Group, valued to be worth 1 crore each. The judges line-up has also changed. While M.G. Sreekumar has been retained to be a judge once again, Ouseppachan and P. Unnikrishnan filled the other two judge spots, with one more spot for a weekly guest judge. Later the judges were changed again, and Sharath and Usha Uthup was called back upon popular demand. Ranjini has came again to the star singer family as anchor.
There are several controversies and rumours surrounding the staging of elimination rounds. It is also alleged that Asianet has imposed legal obligation on contestants to gain their exclusivity rights for a fixed term for events and programs organised and managed by Asianet Event Management Ltd, one of its subsidiaries.
Asianet has not made clear how the SMS
votes are attributed before and after on each contestants reaching the 'danger zone' leading to their elimination. It is alleged that the SMS votes received are not being added to decide the ranking of the contestants. Number or the percentage of SMS votes received by each contestants are kept private from the viewers of the show. Since the channel has its reach over 60 countries including the Indian sub-continent
, Sri Lanka
, South East Asia
, Middle East
and the lower half of the former Soviet Union
at various time zones, the SMS voting end-time was initially not announced. Asianet later clarified after the eighth stage that SMS voting deadlines are based on Indian Standard Time
. It is alleged that SMS
votes are kept for best interest to the sponsors of the show, Idea Cellular
rather than deciding the actual rankings of contestants.
After each stage of performance, the show has 'elimination' round. The candidates are eliminated from the next stage of performance through the 'elimination' round. Once eliminated the contestants photos are published with an "OUT" seal on their face.Candidates are eliminated based on the marks given by the judges and the SMS votes each candidates got.The number of SMS votes each candidate got is not reveled to the audience. An arrangement is made with the mobile phone companies that each SMS would fetch solid income to the channel. The SMS charge is about four to ten times higher than the normal SMS charges. The additional income is shared by the mobile company and the channel. Initially the audience were not informed of the elimination date and venue inadvance. However, the channel was pursuing its audience to vote even after the elimination was over weeks before. This was exposed by a few through the internet. This had affected the reputation of the channel and the programme was criticized for its dishonesty. However after its eighth stage the project team behind the programme corrected this error as a face saving measure by making its elimination round public. However, the programme was continued to be criticized through the open forum of the programme itself. Later, Asianet had to close the forum fearing the acute criticism it was facing.
Every elimination round begins with the presentation of a few candidates as fallen into danger zone. A candidate falls into danger zone if the channel declares that person has not got either sufficient marks or enough votes.Even candidates with higher marks awarded by the judges were brought to the danger zone as they have reportedly fetched lesser SMS votes.The elimination round was presented as an emotional event where all the judges and participants cry aloud. Often the judges use the emotional environment to persuade the audience to vote It is alleged that better candidates were pushed to the danger zone, just to emotionally blackmail the audience to vote for their favourite candidates.
Asianet's exclusivity rights on ISS contestants
The show appears to have lost some credibility when one of the contestants was eliminated without being present at the stage on the eighth round of eliminations. The reason behind this contestants deliberate absence remains unexplained to the audience and was told due to 'personal reasons' and 'not so serious matter' concerning him, ISS & Asianet. They have confirmed that he was elimated from show due to violating one of the rules. There is a rumor that the contestant got booted after he declined from signing the exclusivity rights contract with Asianet not to sing in movies, attend stage shows, or other television channel's programs for a period of 18 months. news
Stretching, Dragging & Title crisis
ISS 2007 series started in June 2007 with 40 contestants and several viewers argue and question the genuineness of this reality show based on the fact that the producers of the show took 32 weeks to eliminate 25 contestants. Some critics argue that channel's strategy of stretching and dragging the show like a TV SOAP
is an alternative to gain popularity for this new format presentation in primetime
TV slots. The tenth round introduced Ennishttam
, is a perfect example showing the producers attempt to drag and 'fill' the show with non-reality contents.
It is also suspected that producers are forced to extend the episode telecast of ISS 2007 in December 2007 due to public clamor surrounding SMS controversy & rumours regarding the pre-selection of the winner.
The fact that Asianet
themselves made several obvious but nervous attempts to repair the damages caused by these rumours
adds to the obscurity.
The channel underwent an unprecedented crisis with "Idea Star Singer 2007" on the title when the show was telecasted on the New Years Day
of January 2008.
References and Notes