Last week, the last female contestant bowed out of Star Voice of India. Predictably, this raised a few morchas( one cannot help but be suspicious) of women insisting that there should be more representation of women in the finales of reality shows. In an ideal world, they said, the finals should have one boy and one girl. Some of them even went so far as to suggest that ‘just like we have reservation in jobs and schools, we should also have reservation in these contests.’
This is so wrong in so many ways that I will not even attempt to tackle the issue of why affirmative action is ridiculous. Instead, let’s take a look at why women are(supposedly) not doing well in these singing competitions.
First of all, I can think of 2 female singers who did come up through the medium of these shows whose careers in playback singing for Hindi movies has been nothing short of spectacular. I am, of course, referring to Shreya Ghosal and Sunidhi Chauhan. Even if no girls made it to the top 5 in VOI, the ones with real talent will be remembered and called upon to sing in future movies.
Which brings us to the second point, which is that this particular crop of girls was not particularly talented. Say what you will, Priyani was a screecher, Abhilasha’s vocals need to mature and the less said about Prantika the better. So in this particular instance, it may have simply been case of lack of talent. As I predicted in a much earlier blog, when it came to sheer ability, the boys were better.
However, there is one element to these reality shows that does skew the results in favor of the male singers. Singing talent in all these shows is determined by the singer’s ability to sing Hindi movie songs and even the casual listener will realize that the female singers are required to be coloratura sopranos – that is – singing at a really, really high pitch. Since only a small percentage of female singers can really do that, the majority sound like they are shrieking. If the contest rules were broadened to include different kinds of music alike folk and classical, probably the imbalance would be redressed.
Till we accept that there are forms of music other than film music, we will be forced to judge clones of the Lata style of singing. Alas, there aren’t many like her.