Chennai and Tamil Nadu
Festival of ragas
Ratnam Junior on Amrita TV is a talent hunt to select and encourage
up-and-coming Carnatic vocalists. |
Music teachers should not only
teach lyrics, tala and raga but also teach students to emote and
Tuning in: Contestants of Raga Ratnam Junior on
Just when one thought that reality shows had
reached saturation point, Amrita TV has packaged a talent hunt and
reality show that is aimed at showcasing the best up-and-coming talent
in Carnatic music. Called Raga Ratnam Junior, the show has 15 young
sters competing for the top slot in the talent hunt.
Judges Palakkad K. L. Sreeram, Aswathy Tirunal Rama Varma and
“We wanted a show that was rooted in our culture. So the aim was not
to mimic the usual reality shows that go over the top to promote the
participants and the show. We wanted a value-based programme that would
reach out to all music lovers.
“Of the 1,500 contestants who
participated in the audition, 15 were selected by a jury headed by
veteran music composer Dakshinamoorthy,” says Sohanlal, producer of the
The result is a group of young singers between the ages of 10 and 15 celebrating a festival of ragas.
Avers Dakshinamoorthy, the man at the helm of the talent hunt: “I
see the entire exercise as a lesson for budding singers. They can see,
learn and correct themselves. Music teachers should not only teach
lyrics, tala and raga but also teach students to emote and modulate.”
“The effort has been to select and encourage students who go beyond
merely memorising and parroting what has been taught by a music
teacher. The participant should be able to improvise and prove his/her
proficiency as a singer,” says Palakkad K. L. Sreeram, one of the
judges on the panel.
Sreeram, a playback singer, composer and Carnatic musician, feels
that students must be motivated to explore the ragas and come up with
kalpanaswaras on their own.
A view shared by Carnatic vocalist and veena artiste Aswathy Tirunal
Rama Varma who participated as a ‘celebrity judge’ in a round devoted
to compositions of Swati Tirunal.
He adds: “Although I am against competitions in music and fine art,
I agreed to participate in this show as this talent hunt does not
merely promote gloss. These kind of competitions get a lot of media
space and attention and so it is a platform to share our views with the
participants and viewers. Moreover, there is a genuine attempt to
kindle the spark of creativity in the participants.”
He was all praise for the accompanists Edapally Ajith (violin), G.
Babu (mridangam), Sudheer (ghatam) and Govindaprasad (morsing).
“It was wonderful to see their selfless work and the way they
encouraged, supported, guided and, sometimes, covered up the small
slips of the contestants. Despite the glare and heat of the lights,
they consistently and tirelessly came up with a marvellous performance
for each competitor,” he adds.
While applauding the high standards maintained by the finalists,
both Rama Varma and Sreeram rue the many simple mistakes made by some
participants in the audition rounds. “There were many able singers who
failed to make the grade because of the glaring errors they made in the
swara sthanam and ragas; mistakes that they seem to have picked up from
their teachers. Mistakes in elaborating the ragas, in pronunciation and
rendition of lyrics. But what is heartening is the enthusiasm and verve
of the contestants, some of whom were outstanding,” they explain.
Playback singer and Carnatic vocalist Bini Krishnakumar, one of the
judges on the panel, echoes their sentiments when she says that some of
the participants were so good that it was difficult to cut a single
“I feel the channel must be congratulated for a bold decision to
plan such a show. The minute I heard about it, I agreed to participate
as a judge.
“It is difficult to come up with rigid parameters in music and say
one style is wrong or right. I feel that Carnatic music is that which
pleases the ‘karn’ (ear) and touches our heart,” says Bini.
And it is the ability to touch the hearts of viewers that will
decide the fate of the contestants as the viewers vote through SMS.
“However, 50 per cent of the marks will be decided by our judges. So,
it will not be completely SMS-based voting that will select the
winners. The next round will have nine singers (Navratnas) as six
participants will be eliminated. This round has been divided into
different segments such as Keerthanams, Drishyasangeetam, Swararaga
Swati pravaham and Thillana. More innovative rounds are in the offing,”
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