After the meeting on 14th, I was totally puzzled. I didn’t know where to start, how to select the three songs for each decade, how to learn them, etc. Called up my dad immediately for help; he suggested a few songs and singers from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Man, its all karma-phala; There was a time when I used to pester my dad to switch channels when he played the oldest of Tamil songs. And now I literally heard him grinning from the other end !!! Got hold of a couple of Cd’s from the nearest Music World; but honestly, I had no clue what I was buying. Most of the songs from the 40’s sounded similar, classical oriented and men sounding like women because of the high-pitch.
It took me three days to finalise the songs and three days to learn them. For 40’s and 50’s, I just had one song in mind. I was comfortable with the songs from 80’s onwards, as I learned a couple of them in the second audition, and for 90’s and 2000’s, I knew more than what was needed. Reached the venue, Sudhakar was already there and also a girl named Aishwarya. Dear old Sb was seated near some huge speakers and next to her was another lady (lets call her Um).
The practice session began. First Aishwarya went and then Sudhakar; poor guy had to change most of the songs that he had chosen. That’s when I knew that it was more of a song selection process than a practice session. Sb selected the songs and Um wrote them down (should be for the orchestration. Obviously, even they need practice!) In the meanwhile, the rest of the contestants filled the room; Rajeshwari (already met in the last meeting), Gayathri and Vikram. The six of us came face to face for the first time.
I was next. Took my songs list and stood in front of the two assessors.
Sb : How was the last week for you?
Me :It was good. Had to listen to a lot of new songs, I mean old songs that were new to me.
Sb : Ok, what have you selected for the intro round?
Me : Kumaari from Anniyan
Sb : No, that isn’t good, that is more of a comical song, whats the other one you have in mind?
Me : I had Sahara Pookal, but (turning to where Aishwarya was seated) she already sang it.
Sb: you have to come up another song.
Me : Hmm…
Sb : For 40’s?
Me : Thyagaraja Bhaagavathars’ Naatiya Kalaye (I sang it when she asked me to)
Sb: Havnt heard this before. Are you sure you are going to sing this well, I guess, it’s a tough song.
I nodded yes.
Got the song approved for 50’s; Paatu Paadava from Then nilavu
Sb : 60’s?
Me : Ullathil nalla ullam from Karnan
Sb : No, change the song (with a stern face, as if that song offended her)
Me : But I know that very well, I sing it well too and that’s the only song I know from 60’s.
Sb : Theres no way that you can sing that song…..No one
can…after Seerkazhi Govindarajan, there has been no one alive to sing the way he sang that particular song.
Me : But give me a chance atleast ?
Sb : NO and that’s final !!!
Me Grrrrrr…ing (inside)
Got the songs approved for 70’s and 80’s which were Paadumbothu naan from Netru indru naalai and Pani vizhum from Ninaivellam Nithya respectively.
Sb : 90’s ?
Me : En Kadhale from Duet
Sb : change! someone from the first batch had already sang it.
Me : Ok, then, Kayyil midakkum from Ratchagan
Sb (this time she smiled) : No one tries that song in a competition, are you sure you can do it well?
Me : Yes
Sb : 2000’s ?
Me : Shakthi Kodu from Baba (the one I sang for the first audition)
Sb : No, it isn’t even a song, change ! ( I wanted to ask her, if that’s the case, how come you selected me?)
Me: Vellai Pookal from Kannathil Muthamittaal (sang and approved)
Sb : Ok. Practice well, and get back to me before you leave for today with the intro and 60’s song.
I immediately rang up my friends for help on the intro song and finalized on Kadhal vaithu from Deepavali. Personally, I wasn’t happy with this selection. I was totally put off when she remarked about my 60’s song. I was confident and this lady wasn’t letting me try it even once. Though I had a buffer for the 60’s round (and I didn’t tell her that), I desperately wanted to sing the one I selected. I heard Gayathri, Rajeshwari and Vikram sing as I waited in the hall to give Sb my final list.
They literally shocked me with their talent; especially Vikram. They were all trained and sang like real professionals. Infact, all 5 of them were trained and I was the odd person. That’s when I realized the seriousness of the show. For them, this is a part of their ambition, their career, their dream! Though I am mad about music, I never had it as my priority; never wanted to establish a career for myself in playback singing because of various other reasons. I had no intentions to win; my only aim was just to be a part of the show and do my best. Millions are going to watch this on TV; and I didn’t want anyone to have a bad opinion on my performance. Moreover, out of the other 988 participants, who got rejected, atleast 60% of them would have been trained for years to get an opportunity like this. It was more of a responsibility for me now. I just cannot let anyone down; my family and friends, the Raagamaalika crew, or even the 988 other participants!!!
Next : Part 5 – they finally shot me !!!
Also read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3(a) and Part 3 (b)