I was sitting in this room with a stranger in spiky orange hair and a blue goatee. He was wearing a pink suit, parrot green shirt and yellow boots. I didn’t know what this Technicolour Tommy was doing here. Like me, he may have had an appointment with Mr Faisla Karnewala, chief executive of a TV channel.
Soon, we were both summoned to Karnewala’s office.
A corporate-looking honcho who smelt like a Givenchy perfume factory, he announced, “I have invited both you gentlemen, Mr Kusnur and Mr Dikhawa, to finalise the three judges for our new talent hunt reality show Aawaaz De Kahaan Hai. The programme will have nothing in common with other such shows. It will be original.”
His secretary Lipstick Loveleen made notes on her laptop.
I asked him what qualifications he was looking for. Karnewala shot back, “That’s for you both to decide. The competitors will belong to different genres. For the judges, the only condition is that we should have two men and one woman.” Dikhawa interrupted, “That’s easy for me. As head of a music label, I know a lot of people who fit the role.”
Both of us started giving suggestions. I began, “As a talent consultant, I figure there will be different kinds of artistes. Hence, our jury should have one senior male classical musician, one senior female folk singer and one man who understands modern western music.” Tommy butted in, “Why should all of them be senior musicians? Or musicians, for that matter? We can think of Virat Kohli, Sunny Leone and that YouTube comedy sensation Besura Bhonknewala who makes fun of artistes.”
Expressionless, Karnewala said, “Mr Dikhawa, they needn’t be senior. But ideally, they should have some connection with music. If you tell Virat a song needs a good hook, he will demonstrate it with his cricket bat. Continue, gentlemen.”
Dikhawa argued, “I have no clue what nishad means but what difference will it make? Our judge should be able to impress TV audiences with his charm. I know a musician whose last hit was released in 1996, but he’s still in demand because he can recite poetry so fluently. He takes rare ancient pieces but people think it’s his original poetry.”
Karnewala began yawning. He said, “We’ll talk about him later. Let’s decide on the lady.” I suggested, “As I said, we need someone well-versed with folk music from different parts of India, be it from Kolkata, Kashmir, Kutch or Kochi.” Dikhawa stood up and banged the table, yelling, “You’re telling me music from Kolkata is different from music from Kochi. What do you know, you uneducated clown? India is one nation.”
The channel boss moderated. He said, “Okay Mr Dikhawa, I appreciate your patriotism. Tell me what kind of a woman you have in mind.” My new friend’s face brightened up, “She should have oomph, so a perfect figure is a must. And trendy, showy clothes to match. The camera can focus on her. She should look dhinchak. And should know acting. When participants and their mothers start weeping, she should hug them and start crying herself. Mat ro, mere bachche, mwah, mwah…”
Secretary Loveleen was in tears. Dikhawa went on, “For the third candidate, we must choose someone whose songs have at least 100 million YouTube views. He must be open to brand endorsements. He should be at least six feet tall. He should have either of two reactions – Tera sur achcha hai or Tumko apne sur pe kaam karna padega. He should…”
I had to stop him. I said, “We must have someone who knows modern compositions and arrangements, someone who can understand the singer’s range, throw and expression, the way he or she adjusts to the orchestra, what makes them unique. For that, the judge has to be a role model himself, someone with a clean reputation who participants look up to.”
Dikhawa was on his own trip. He barked, “How does reputation matter? I know many musicians with various accusations against them but are called for various roles. Obviously, channels hope to get written about and increase their TRPs.”
Loveleen asked, “Sir, what are TRPs?” Dikhawa replied, “Huh!!! I don’t know the full form myself. All I know is that your channel can get huge TRPs too. Ask me what kind of track record you want, I shall get them.” I yelled, “Dude, people like you should be punished.”
Karnewala banged his table like a court chief justice. He growled, “Order! Order! Our TV channel has come to the conclusion that the ideas put forward by Mr Narendra Kusnur are of an interesting nature, and deeply reflect his desire to support aesthetically and technically appealing music. However, in light of the way the music industry currently functions, it is obvious that factors other than good music are necessary to ensure our growth.”