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A song for the stars

As star vocalist Shubha Mudgal joins the ranks of TV mentors, she talks about what made her do it

Photo: R. V. Moorthy

In sync with change Shubha Mudgal

Shubha Mudgal is known for speaking her mind and following her heart. She took up pop singing when her peers and elders in the classical fraternity bristled at the very name, and happily sidestepped any possibility of being condoned by saying she did it for the love of it, not for any financial considerations. Then, when music reality shows became the Indian middle class TV addiction, and classical ustads were diplomatically uncritical, saying at least it took music to the masses, she spoke out against the trivialisation of concepts sacred to traditional arts. Today however, Shubha Mudgal has joined the ranks of TV mentors as a member of the jury on “Amul Voice of India – Mummy ke Superstars” — another film song-based competition that went on air last weekend on Star Plus.

It is not apparently a case of joining them when you can’t beat them, however. Here too, Shubha has followed her heart, since “two very special women on the crew” of the programme convinced her to join. They have known her for years and are aware of her temperament, says the versatile vocalist, who is sure that with the other like-minded jury members (Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani of the Vishal-Shekhar duo), her principles will not be pushed around. Anyway, she jokes, it is not easy to push her around!

Talented kids

The children chosen for the episodes are certainly talented, and many are learning music systematically, says Shubha. She approves of the show’s concept of having the aspirants’ mothers with them. “Hence the role of the guardian, the importance of mentoring and guiding, is part of the show,” she notes.

Shubha does feel that society is more tolerant of a performing arts career today than a few decades ago. Take the guardians in “Mummy ke Superstars”. A few years ago these kids might have been told “Arre, what are you doing!” instead of getting encouragement and support. “There was a time when colleges wouldn’t give you leave to go for an inter-collegiate music contest,” she recalls.

But has this acceptability come as a result of the tempting financial contracts doled out by TV sponsors and recording companies? “I think it’s not so much a question of money but a way of catapulting to fame,” says Shubha, even as she warns, “I think parents need to be aware they have to look beyond this.”

It’s doubtless a long haul, whichever way you approach it. But in a competition-obsessed society, is televised winning and failing not adding one more straw to the overburdened child’s back? “I’ll tell you what,” muses Shubha. “I was 14 or 15 when I appeared for my first audition on All India Radio. In those days that was a very big thing. And I failed. There was disappointment when I failed, but my mother was very firm. She said what did you think, that you were perfect?”

Kept grounded, says Shubha, she didn’t mope for long. “There was no pressure. They wouldn’t say stop singing because you are not winning.”

But today’s parents have been known to prod a nursery-goer with the taunt ‘loser’! “The contest is there in life, in school,” says Shubha. “Whether or not to put pressure is the guardians’ approach.” As of now we need only to pressure the TV remote. Supermoms and superstars are ready to twinkle.

ANJANA RAJAN

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