Monday, 28 April 2014

TV Reality, Reality TV!

My first memories of being on TV are those from early reality TV in Malaysia. These were the first attempts by Malaysia at creating reality TV content for the Tamil speaking audience; I was on Paadal Thiran Potti 2002.

Like any dejected reality artiste and aspiring singer, I cried hopelessly when I failed the quarter finals. Funny thing is I tried half-heartedly in 2003 and got selected again. In those days, no back story was done, so I had nothing to sell myself with, on the show. The experience was still new to me in 2003, but this time I expected little from a TV show which seemed more interested in ratings than talent. That was a strange concept to me then, but is something I realise only now, was an issue Indian talent programmes in Malaysia grappled with, having no reference point other than AI at the time, no format creation guide and no specialist reality show consultant. Today all that is availed upon an approved budget in TV, I guess.

I was voted out by the then esteemed public-voting method which again, today, is not a preferred selection method at quarter finals in reality singing competitions around the world, including Malaysia. Why? Because the public has gradually realised that it is not as equipped with a skill as fine as that of a specialist in a certain talent, to gauge the artistry of an aspiring actor, singer, model or chef! That and the then weaker economics of digital entertainment. Few people voted  in those days via sms among the Indian masses, which this show was meant to appeal to. But  public voting was used and if the contestant did not prompt tonnes of friends to vote them in, you were only going to garner what I term "genuine" votes, i.e. votes of those who genuinely listened and liked a performer. There was no FB and Twitter, remember?

In any case, once I was out in 2003, I thought I'd lost all chance of being an artiste. I was wrong. Against the odds, again, TV selected me for shows for Merdeka, for shows needing talent in classical Indian vocal music etc. I thought that with such limited opportunity in the Malaysian commercial music scene for vernacular artistes, I'd have to just continue my corporate career until my end. But no - I was 'found' by those wanting a good recording voice. Radio commercial - check. Recording artiste for album - check. Musical theatre - check. Interesting - and there I thought tv viewers voting singers in or out had written me off as a singer. Wrong!

The music education I took on my own ringgit starting 1998 in India, and the various performance opps I considered lessons in experience, paid off when in 2006, I got entry in Madras University for my Masters in Indian Music. The rest of my story up until 2009, when Bernama interviewed me, is here.

It's been a ride worth taking and as time passes, the journey gets even more interesting. Peaks and troughs. Ups and downs. And they're all here to stay.

I finally turned towards music and away from the life of a corporate employee. Or did I?

Today however, I shall say no more. More to come, my friends. I've a feeling I can let my story unravel itself  - in TV, in recording music, in writing, in survival, in prayer, in forgiveness, in humility and in gratitude. But revealing all at once dulls the taste for drama. So here's a piece, no more.

Just stay tuned. ;-)