Mass hysteria is sweeping the hills of Darjeeling, not on account of any violent separatist demand, but with the passion to see the son of their soil become India's idol.
Prashant Tamang, a constable with the Kolkata Police, has already ignited fire in the hearts of millions of hill residents with his voice and they are now desperate to see him win the reality TV show, Indian Idol.
And not just in the hills, Tamang-frenzy is sweeping across the 27,000 Kolkata Police personnel in the plains as well.
"We are very happy, we are very excited. And now we are waiting with baited breath for him to become the Indian Idol,” says Joint Commissioner of Police, Kolkata, Zulfiquar Hasan.
Tamang is pitted against Amit Paul of Shillong in the final round of the show and is only a step away from becoming India's next singing sensation.
Supporters of their favourite crooner are ready to go to any extent to see their hero win - from announcements for votes in public gatherings to booking PCOs for the job.
The mania has acquired such heights, that even Chief Minister of Sikkim has come out publicly in support of Tamang.
With the finals scheduled for September 23 it remains to be seen if this man in uniform becomes Bollywood's next singing sensation.
Prashant Tamang, a sepoy in Kolkata Armed Police’s Special Force,won Indian Idol 3 after defeating Amit Paul.
It was Prashant Tamang, a sepoy in Kolkata Armed Police’s Special Force, who had the last laugh. He won the Indian Idol 3 contest, defeating Amit Paul in the finale of the over two-month-long talent hunt held in Delhi on Sunday.
Around 7 crore SMSes were received from people, mostly from the Northeast, voting for their favourite contestants, said the organisers.
The excitement for the event was hard to miss as over 50,000 spectators thronged the venue of the finale, the National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) Exhibition grounds at Okhla, carrying huge cutouts and posters of their favourite contestants.
A large group of students had come all the way from Darjeeling to see their local hero Prashant Tamang live in action. And they were not disappointed. “We arrived in Delhi only this morning. We could not let this opportunity to support Prashant go,” said Soham Wangdi, as his friends circulated posters of Tamang. Tamang stole the centre stage with his rendition of ‘Yeh Kali Kali Ankhen’ from the film Baazigar.
Amit Paul from Shillong, the other finalist, too, had his share of supporters. They, however, took Paul’s defeat in their stride. “I supported Amit Paul right from the beginning, but I guess the best man won,” said Mrinalini, 19.
Advertisement After being declared the winner, Tamang said in a voice choked with emotion: “I thank my mother, public, and the Bengal police for permitting me to participate in the show.”
The finale also saw performances by John Abraham, singers Mika and Sukhwinder Singh, and top 13 contestants.
Though the event was largely peaceful, there was some confusion over entry initially.
“Even though we have passes, the security refuses to let us in, they keep sending us from one gate to the other. There is lack of coordination,” said Ananya Parekh, an enthusiast.
ACP V P Singh, however, said. “Private security agencies are controlling the entry so we can’t do anything.” DCP South Anil Shukla all arrangements were in place from 4 pm.
In Kolkata meanwhile, Tamang’s colleagues and bosses watched the show on a giant screen at Body Guard lines, and plan a grand celebration once he returns.
Indian Idol: It's Darjeeling's darling vs Meghalaya's Pin-Up boy!
As the nation sings and swings with him, Amit Paul knows he is the king.
Not only has he got a huge fan following rooting for his selection as the next Indian Idol, but in Shillong — in his Khasi warrior outfit — unknowingly he is doing the impossible, bridging the divide between the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo tribes of Meghalaya with that of the non-tribals.
Little wonder then that Meghalaya wants Northeast's new pin-up boy to be their brand ambassador.
Amit's journey began in a local band called Yuva in Shillong in 1992 and in 15 years, the boy from the hills has certainly moved mountains with his voice, making it to Indian Idol's final round.
Meanwhile, the residents of Darjeeling are cheering for their favourite finalist, Prashant Tamang.
The constable with the Kolkata Police enjoys a huge fan base in his hometown and they are willing shell out thousands through SMS to see him as the next Indian Idol.
People say they are sending up to 2,000 messages a day to make Prashant win.
Prashant is everywhere in Darjeeling, from streets to walls. Darjeeling's housewives have even come out with collection boxes to raise money to send SMSes for him.
But to find out who will be the next Indian Idol — Darjeeling's Darling or Meghalaya's Pin-Up Boy — one will simply have to wait till September 23 for the grand finale.
Reality TV probably never had India in it's hard grip ever before. The tension is palpable in Shillong ahead of the Indian Idol finals. Local boy Amit Paul is pitted against Darjeeling's Prashant Tamang.
“No sister can ever explain the love and support I am getting from the people of Shillong, from India and even from the whole world. People love him so much that I'm not able to express it. I am running out of words. I am on top of the world, “ says Amit’s proud sister.
Amit's mother too finds it hard to suppress her feelings.
“I am extremely happy for my son. I am happy because all the other contestants like him so much. This is all because of everybody’s good wishes,” says his mother.
And sharing Amit's mom's confidence in him are his supporters. Clearly Amit has a lot of expectations to live up to.
“I would like to add that the whole of Meghalya is with him and he should win and he will win,” says one of his supporters.
“Amit is like my son. I have been trying to put pressure so that he becomes the Indian idol,” says another fan.
So does Amit's family have any last minute tips for him?
“Amit don't worry you have our support and love. You will definitely be able to become the Indian Idol. Don’t worry just sing well, " says his mother.
Here's wishing both the contestants good luck and may the best man win.
RJ's remarks against Idol Tamang triggers violence
Curfew, clamped to quell violence that erupted over the alleged derogatory comment on Indian Idol Prashant Tamang by a Delhi-based FM channel, continued for the second day on Saturday, paralysing the normal life in this commercial city.
Life was also hit in Darjeeling sadar and Kurseong sub-division of Darjeeling district in a dawn-to-dusk bandh call given by the Prashant Tamang Fan Club in protest of the comment which they said had "hurt the sentiment, tradition and culture of the Gorkhas".
"No untoward incident was reported from anywhere as four columns of the army and two companies of para-military forces held a flag march in the town," Darjeeling district magistrate Rajesh Pandey said.
"The curfew would continue as long as the situation demands," he said and asked all the institutions, shops, markets, government and private offices to remain closed till further orders.
He also asked the people to remain indoors.
Darjeeling police has lodged a formal FIR against the Delhi-based FM channel and a team would leave for the national capital to probe the incident.
Meanwhile, an all party meeting has been called by the West Bengal Minister for Municipal Affairs and Urban Development and MLA from Siliguri, Ashok Bhattacharya, here during the day to restore peace in the hills.
Tamang, in a message to his fans, requested them to maintain peace and tranquility saying "violence has no place in song or music."
Pandey said the two persons who were seriously injured in the police firing on Friday were operated upon on Friday night to remove bullets lodged in their body.
Siliguri on Friday witnessed widespread violence between the fans of Prashant Tamang and the locals, which forced the police to fire three rounds in which the two were injured.
Trouble erupted when an ambulance was obstructed by a 2000-strong procession of the fans, who were on way to the SDO office to submit a memorandum against the derogatory comment.
As local people protested against the obstruction of the ambulance, which had sought to enter Siliguri Zilla Hospital, the fans went on a rampage setting on fire several vehicles, including two police jeeps. Many roadside shops and restaurants were ransacked and damaged.
More than 60 people, half of them policemen were injured in the brickbatting between the two sides.
Many fans, who had taken shelter in the nearby court compound, were later escorted to safety by the army.
The Union Home Ministry has been urged to take steps in consultation with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry against the FM radio jockey who had made derogatory comments against Tamang, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had said in Kolkata on Friday.
Music composer Anu Malik will be the only Indian judge on Asian Idol, the show that is the ultimate reason why Indian Idol is held. The first ever-Asian Idol, in keeping with the immensely-successful and popular version of the blockbuster Pop Idol format, will have Idol winner from six countries (India, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam) competing for this title. The mega-event is going to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Abhijeet Sawant, winner of the first season of Indian Idol who also has sung in films like Aashiq Banaya Aapne will compete for the title from India.
Anu Malik, the only common judge to be a part of all three seasons of Indian Idol, leaves for shooting on December 9 and will be away for a week. Says Anu, “I am proud that I will be judging other Asian contestants. I am the only Indian judge and the rest are from other countries.”
The music director who has composed just one song this year in his only film Undertrial will have about six releases in 2008 including Good Luck, Ananth Mahadevan’s Anamika, Venus’ satire directed by Sanjay Chhel, Harry Baweja’s Love Story 2050 and Sajid Nadiadwala’s next.
Incidentally Alisha Chinai, top Indian playback and pop singer who was also another judge on Indian Idol 3, will perform at the result gala.
Drama and suspense, tears and sorrow, joy and ecstasy - Sony television channel's reality show 'Indian Idol' is back for the third season. And what makes this season better than the previous two is the quality of the singers.
Young and vibrant with stardust in their eyes, the contestants are gifted with rich and melodious voices.
'We have got some really talented and confident contestants. We have done our bit and we have now put the mantle on the audiences. I am sure they will make the right decision in choosing their 'Bharat ki shaan',' said Udit Narayan, one of the show's four judges.
The judges - Javed Akhtar, Anu Malik, Alisha Chinai and Narayan- selected 123 contestants from 25,000 candidates across India and overseas. Of them, they handpicked 28 aspirants who gave a mind-blowing performance in the piano round that started June 1.
Indrajit Roy, creative director of the show, said they plunged into the preparations for the third innings soon after the second season ended.
'Immediately after wrapping up the second season we started working on the next one. The entire auditioning took two-and-a-half-months. From small cities in India to Dubai and London, we travelled across the globe in search of talent,' Roy told IANS.
Asked to name his favourite, Roy rattled off a long list of names. 'Shantanu Sudame, Abhishek Kumar, Prashant Tamang, Smita Adhikary, Charu Semwal and Aisha Sayed are awesome. They are hugely talented singers.' said Roy.
The elimination process that started June 1 will continue till June 9. The 20 shortlisted boys and girls will enter the next round called gala round. The grand finale will take place in September.
To accommodate the piano round, all the prime time shows of Sony including 'Viruddh' and 'Durgesh Nandini' have been taken off. These shows will resume their run June 11. From the second week of June 'Indian Idol 3' will be telecast on weekends.
'Since we want maximum number of viewers to tune in to Indian idol, we have made this show a daily for a week. The other soaps will return after a week's break on June 11,' said a Sony official.
In the first round of elimination from the boy's team Bharat Bhushan and Roshan Singh were voted out. Pinki Maydasani and Rashmi Vijaya are the two girls who had to leave the show because they got the least votes.
'In my elimination, the major factor was poor voting. I didn't get sufficient number of votes because I was not properly highlighted. The public couldn't connect with me.
'I sang 'Firat rahoon' from 'The Killer'. I was a little nervous because I am not camera friendly, but I was satisfied with my performance,' said Bharat Bhushan, who will go back to Meerut and pursue his graduation study.
'But I will continue to do shows because my financial condition is not so good,' added Bharat.
On the other hand, Roshan Singh was not so happy with the judges especially, Alisha.
'I was shaky during the performance and my performance was ordinary. I wish I had chosen some other song. I sang 'Tum dil ki dhadkan mein'. But I would also like to say that the judging was very poor. Alisha Chinai's comments, in particular, did not make any sense,' said Roshan, who is an engineer and plans to return to Australia to earn his living. 'I can't make a living out of singing here.'
Both Bharat and Roshan rue that the focus is more on entertainment and singing takes a back seat.
'The entire process of selection is satisfactory but too much drama is involved. The focus is more on reality and less on singing,' said Roshan.
'I am not so comfortable in front of camera. For instance, I was asked to pretend that I'm talking to my father and I found it very awkward. I couldn't bring the right emotion,' said Bharat.
Roy explained that the moment the public is involved the focus automatically shifts to the reality part.
From STAR to Zee to Sony, all the channels have reality talent hunt programmes but the sad part is that most of the winners and the participants fade away after the show.
'The whole idea is to give these youngsters a platform and exposure they never had. Rest depends on how they take it further,' said Roy.
Hrithik Roshan and Shah Rukh Khan, two superstars, who do not have much in common, except for their star status. But that has changed now. The two superstars now share the same physical trainer Prashant Sawant.
Hrithik was so impressed with Shah Rukh's fit body that he wanted his trainer. He went over to Mannat and over some male bonding, SRK gave him the number of his trainer. Hrithik is believed to have immediately called Prashant and asked him to train him as well. Despite the fact that Hrithik has a state-of-art gym at his Juhu residence, he went over to Prashant's gym and checked out the equipment. Apparently he was totally bowled over by the power equipment that was used for SRK. Apparently Prashant trained Hrithik for a week before going off on his annual vacation. Susanne was so pleased with Prashant that she also sent him a ‘thank you' cheque after she met him for the first time.
2007/9/26 14:19:26 The case of Prashant Reddy’s murder gets curious by the day. While the Forensic experts were quite eager to file their report, stating that it was a clear case of suicide, the doctors at Osmania differ.
The doctors who conducted the post-mortem are of the view that it was a case of murder and not suicide as it is being tried to be made out. The doctors say that there were many injury marks on the body of Prashant Reddy and also the gunshot wound clearly indicated that the trigger was pulled from a distance of six to 24 inches.
2007/9/22 14:40:20 The CID has revealed that Venkat has admitted to the killing of his friend and realtor Prashant Reddy. According to sources, the CID is said to have recorded Venkat’s statement stating that he had killed Prashant with his revolver. Venkat is said to have confessed this and is said to have told the CID that land disputes were the reason for the murder. The father of Venkat and former PCC chief K Keshava Rao however was quick to react. KK said that the statement was not Venkat’s but only that of the CID. Even Venkat’s lawyer says that the statement has not been made by his client but is being made by the CID.
2011/10/12 14:26:29 Social activist Anna Hazare's close aide Prashant Bhusan demands the Government to withdraw the armed forces from Kashmir immediately. He also suggested the Government that, if Kashmiris are not willing to remain in India anymore, then they should be given freedom to be another country.
His statement irks two youth who claims themselves as the members of Sriram Sena. They have attacked him in his chamber in Supreme Court on Wednesday morning. Both of they barged into his chamber and beat him black and blue for making antinational statement. Police were able to catch one of them, but the other managed to escape. Police have registered a case against them.
Prashant Bhusan was shifted to near by hospital for the treatment. Doctors said there is nothing to worry about his health. His associate Kiran Bedi and many others have condemned the attack on Prashant Bhusan.
2007/9/10 10:41:06 A massive cover-up operation is said to be underway to show that the shootout incident at Venkat’s residence is a case of suicide. Venkat got admitted into hospital in a bid to avoid the media. According to eyewitness, it was Venkat who drove Prashant Reddy to Apollo hospital. Prashant was found dead upon arrival. Venkat then went missing for about two hours. He later got himself admitted in the same hospital and is said to be in a ‘unconscious’ state. K Keshava Rao is said to be exerting pressure on policemen to water down the case. However, owing to intense media pressure, a case has finally been booked against Venkat under section 302. People still remember how a similar shootout case against actor Balakrishna was finally closed using high-level influence. A similar act is now being enacted; allege the family members of Prashant Reddy.
If rumors are to be believed, Indian Idol winner Abhijeet Sawant may soon be acting in a film. It is to be directed by none other than Rakesh Sawant, brother of Rakhi Sawant. Although we tried to get in touch with Rakesh Sawant, he was unavailable for comment. Rakesh Sawant has earlier directed Hello Kaun Hai and Hot Money. However, only Hot Money has released so far.
Abhijeet Sawant shot to fame after being crowned the Indian Idol. He has earlier sung the song Marjwana Mit Jawan in Aashiq Banaya Aapne. This movie will be his acting debut.
2007/9/12 13:25:03 The murder of Prashant Reddy is getting mysterious by the day. Now another woman, Preethi claims that she is the wife of Prashanath Reddy. Vilaisini is the first wife of Prashant.
Preethi is said to be a partner in Prashanth and Venkat’s real state business. Preethi now claims that she was married to Prashanth last year. She has released evidence in support of her claim. She has released wedding photographs to the media. She claimed that she had married Prashanth in Vijayawada last year.
Venkat claims that Prashanth was caught in marital trouble with the constant bickering between his two wives. The Nampally court meanwhile has remanded Prashant to police custody till September 26. Venkat has now been lodged in Chanchalguda jail.
Prashanth holds peace talks with wife in an isolated room!
2006/11/25 11:33:48 Prashanth claimed in a High Court, a few days back, that there is danger for him and his family because of his wife's relations. He had also mentioned that he is willing to get back with his separated wife.
Yesterday Prashant and his estranged wife Grahalakshmi appeared separately at the Family Welfare Court. The judge asked the couple to have an open talk in a secluded room. Their conversation lasted about an hour.
On the request of Grahalakshmi's lawyer, the judge postponed the hearing to January 3rd.
Prashant and Grahalakshmi got married in 2005, but 5 months after marriage, Grahalakshmi though pregnant moved into her parents' home. She got a baby boy in last Sept.
In his petition Prashant has complained that he was not allowed to see his son. It's to be noted that theirs was very much an arranged marriage!
Remember Shah Rukh Khan’s six-pack abs in Om Shanti Om?
Well the guy behind SRK’s makeover was none other than ace fitness trainer Prashant. And now producer Sanjay Gupta has roped in Prashant to give Fardeen Khan a lean look for his recently launched film Acid Factory.
The training began a month ago. Gupta is known to present his heroes stylishly. Right from Kaante to Musafir to Shootout At Lokhandwala , the look of every character has always been talked about.
Now, it’s Fardeen’s turn to go through gruelling fitness training and look sessions. A unit member informs, “As part of the preparations of the film and ensuring each actor looks terrific, Prashant who trained SRK is doing a rigorous training schedule with the actors from this movie too.
” Says Prashant when contacted, “I was given a brief by Sanjay Gupta about the look that Fardeen had to have in the movie. Sanjay was particular about Fardeen. Besides Fardeen, I am also training Aftab Shivdasani, Irrfan Khan and Manoj Bajpai.” The film is being directed by journalist turned filmmaker Suparn Varma. Seems like SRK has some serious competition!
Sanjaya Malakar, 17, became the first Indian-American to make it to the semi-finals of American Idol, a nationwide talent hunt in the US for the best singing voice.
He is the youngest among the 12 male contestants -- the next being 8 years older. The finals of the highly-rated Fox television show are slated for May. The 24 contestants -- 12 men and 12 women -- are the cream of the thousands who auditioned across the nation for the contest known to get the top artistes highly lucrative contracts.
Sanjaya, who says overcoming shyness was the toughest obstacle in his life, has been singing right from childhood. "Once I stopped crying," as he puts it. From Lacey, Washington, Sanjaya had entered the contest along with his sister Shyamali, 19, who is now out of the race for the top spot.
Talent hunters closely watch the show which brings together young singers from diverse fields and backgrounds. Sanjaya said his father was a classical Indian musician and that "they were raised around music."
2007/10/1 13:58:24 Vilasini, wife of Prashant Reddy met the TDP chief Chandra Babu Naidu today. She submitted a petition to Babu seeking his help in ensuring a free and fair trial in the murder case. It is being speculated in the media that the police are diluting the case against Venkat, son of PCC chief, K Kesava Rao. Venkat is accused in the murder of realtor Prashant Reddy.
'American Idol' gets down to its final 2 contestants
It'll be David vs. David. Syesha Mercado was voted off "American Idol" Wednesday night, paving the way for the expected showdown between David Archuleta and David Cook.
Mercado, a 21-year-old actress from Sarasota, Fla., was the last woman standing on the top-rated Fox contest. The big-voiced belter surpassed a more accomplished singer (Carly Smithson), a fan favorite (Brooke White) and a statuesque country crooner (Kristy Lee Cook).
While other contestants floundered, Mercado challenged herself with ambitious song choices like Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." She showed more personality — and lots of leg — while swiveling her hips in a glittery gold minidress for a rendition of "Proud Mary." She cried when Paula Abdul gave her a standing ovation last week.
Abdul held the sugar on Tuesday's performance show, telling Mercado that she thought her performance of "Hit Me Up" wasn't "good enough to get into the finals."
With Mercado out of the way, "Idol" can now fully hype the David vs. David matchup.
There's Archuleta, the 17-year-old singing prodigy from Murray, Utah, with the overly involved stage dad. And there's Cook, the 25-year-old former bartender from Blue Springs, Mo., with an emo edge that the angelic Arculeta lacks.
2006/11/1 12:24:04 The first Indian Idol Abhijeet Sawant feels he's being uneccesarily maligned.
"I don't know why. But I'm constantly made to look like the villain when all I want to do is to work," Abhijeet says from the UK where he's currently accompanying Himesh Reshammiya.
"I don't want to sound like a victim. But the latest example of my alleged villainy is that I agreed to sing for a blind orchestra called Udaan at Ghatkopar and then backed out from fulfilling my commitment. The truth is, it's the mediator, a cousin of mine who played dirty.
I was promised Rs 1.5 lakhs to come to the show sing a song on stage with the orchestra. Out of this I finally got only Rs 50,000. I went to the show sang and fraternized with the orchestra.
As soon as I came to know that the organizers were unhappy about my performance I refunded the sum of 50,000 to the organizers."
Abhijeet laughs, "It was made out to seem as though I was forced to return the money when the truth is I readily and voluntarily gave back the money. I later came to know the organizers had given Rs 80,000 for me. The mediators had swallowed up Rs 30,000.'
Abhijeet finds it hard to cope with all the negative vibes. "But I'm happy with my career after becoming the first Indian Idol. I'm doing innumerable shows in India and abroad. And I've sung the songs of a film called Mumbai.com. I'm also starting work on my second film."
About the controversy surrounding his secret fiancé Abhijeet clears the air once and for all.
"Yes, there's a girl. And she is a very special friend. But she isn't my fiancée, as some papers wrote. She works for Jet Airlines. She's from the middleclass and wants to be kept away from the limelight. We should respect that. Let's what the future holds for the two of us."