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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Indian Idol--- is it Really Indian?

Think the American Idol hype is bad? Indian Idol is all set to choose its third Idol this Saturday. The two top contestants, Prashant Tamang and Amit Paul, battled it out last week-- and now, India has been feverishly calling and texting in their votes.
In Darjeeling, a city in the Northeast region of India, authorities decided to impose a ban on the sale of alcohol because of emotions running high. For the first time, a contestant from Darjeeling is a top contestant for Idol.
An official told The Times of India that
"The liquor sale ban is normally enforced during important festivals but with the Hills engulfed in Prashant frenzy, it is best to keep things under control."

The region, which includes the Northeast hills and cities such as Darjeeling and Sikkim, are setting up free round-the-clock voting for its residents. Officials fear that, whether Tamang wins or loses-- the use of alcohol by the residents could result in riots or violence.

The region is devoting all their time to have their native resident become Indian Idol. But is it fair that a region in India, because a contestant is a native, hijacks the contest and sends thousands of votes?

Although it's incredible that a whole region of India has united due to a singing contest on television, it's sad that residents don't view the Indian Idol as their idol. People vote, not based on talent, or even looks or background (like in America), but based on where the contestant is from.

Last year, the extremely talented, judges' (and even guest judges) favorite, NC Karunya, lost to Sandeep Acharya. Karunya is from Hyderabad in South India, where Hindi isn't the main language, thus neither is Hindi-language television. Acharya is from Western India, where the region was engulfed with a similar state of frenzy as Darjeeling is currently facing. The Acharya rage in Rajisthan resulted in an Indian Idol that really was not as talented-- but more importantly, was an Idol that represented only a region of India. The same happend in Saregamapa, another singing contest, where the mediocre Debojit won, and the incredible singers

The problem isn't that these states want an Idol from their region-- it's the overwhelming fact that Indians don't see themselves as Indians-- but as residents of the state or city they belong to. Yes, of course that happens in the United States as well- but not nearly as often, or as strong.

It's not just about Indian Idol-- it's about the basic concept of national identity.