Don’t You Feel Like…


Sometimes when you read the headlines and on the state of the nation, don’t you feel like looking down in sheer frustration and then look up and say a silent prayer?

Yes, no doubt there other positive things to look out for – a roof over your head, good health, lovable family and friends, good job with enough pay to take care of your family and live rather comfortably. But once you take a look at the larger picture and knowing the small things that is happening far from your comfort zone is going to come back you hard, it becomes simply frustrating. From the rising crime (and the insane shooting and assassinations), the speechless outcry when the police kills a bunch of criminals (does that is exactly was expected to be done to end the criminals senseless killings? It should not be the end of the mop up exercise and it should continue until public perception of security improves), the release of the policemen who been charged with the killing of the Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu (gosh, so does this means she killed herself with C4?), the recycling and appointment of the same old tainted & corrupted politicians into the key positions of the Government again and again and again (“tak kan lah tak ada orang lain” in the whole of Malaysia who can the job?), the continued abuse of taxpayers money (the Government obsession with consultants seems to be running high and dry) and the manipulation the notion of race and religion for dubious reasons.

But that is not this post is about – let’s talk about something else and it came to me last night.

I was watching TV last night and out of the many channels in my room, nothing seems to catch my attention. The Fox channel was showing Will Smith’s I, Robot again for like 500th time. As I was scrolling up and down through the channels (stopping momentarily at the local channels), one looked interesting – it was about a group of rockers auditioning in front of the judges over some Korean Pop Channel. The rockers were quite crude and through their song (self composed one) style (they had long hair and leather jackets), their performance was rather so-so (in my opinion) and the judges were laughing all the way. One judge failed them but the rockers managed to scrap through as the other judges thought that the rockers had hope and passed them. Even the rockers were surprised and could not believe that they made it – they were quite hilarious.

Not the next group that came for audition – it brought tears to my eyes.

Five of them and all of them were close friends and fathers with small kids. All were professional background musicians playing for lead bands and singers on contract basis. They do not seem to be highly paid musicians. They dress casually and could just be the guy next door. They are quite close to their kids who in turn hold their fathers as heroes and better than anyone. But they have aged (in their early forties) and they no longer find enough work to support themselves and their families even though they all were extremely talented. One of them, the pianist who was playing for a young singer said that he was fired from his work without any notice as the singer only wanted younger musicians (perhaps to better portray the singer’s youthful image). Out of work and with a family to feed, he was at his lowest point of life and wanted to kill himself so that his family could gain from the insurance money. Somehow he changed his mind. And he heard about the talent show on TV, he and his musician buddies then decided go for the talent show and hope to win – a chance to change their life for better.

They walked in and as they take their place with their music instruments, one of the judges recognize them and asked why they are here. After all, they were all professional musicians. The pianist explains that this is the way they hope to put food on the table for their family. They then start to perform and the title of the song was rightfully called “Papa, Don’t Cry” and the performance was really excellent (ya, much better than the earlier rockers). I don’t understand Korean but due to the lyrics which had something very meaningful or perhaps due to very emotional performance by the struggling fathers, at least 2 judges in their tears. One immediately said yes whilst another abstained. The last judge said something was not right with their performance but before he delivers his verdict, the camera shot changed and was on the families of the band who have been waiting anxiously outside the audition room, some of their kids were even praying for the best. We are not shown on the final outcome of the judge’s verdict. The judge who said the negative comments suddenly walks out and looked “surprised” at the sight of the families outside. When they surrounded him and asked him on what had happened to the band, the judge keeps his silent and then out comes the men shouting, they have been picked to go on to the next level. The family members were in tears too. And that was inspiring and very moving.

Isn’t it just amazing, when things are looking bleak and hopeless, some inspiring story would come along and will inspire you not to lose hope and keep at it and things will change? Similarly there is hope for the country yet. Remember of all the nonsense that the politicians doing now and remember it well and when the next general elections comes, you will know what to do. In the meantime, keep your heads high and look out for the big break that surely will come.

Have a good week ahead…

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Astro Vaanavil Superstar 2012


I am sorry for missing out on a post last week – I was out of the country (where the internet was crawling even for simple emails) and out of commission due to health reasons (more of it when I have the time)

(The guy should have been the winner in last week’s Vaanavil Superstar 2012 but unfortunately was bumped to 3rd place. Perhaps it was meant to be so since he was the previous year winner and it may not look good if he wins again this year. But then again, if it is a competition, that does not matter – past winnings should not have any bearing in this year’s competition. Image source: http://sneghithi.blogspot.com. To watch the full competition, please click to here)

You guys saw Astro’s Vaanavil Superstar 2012 over the weekend?

It is not that often I watch local singing competition (not after we had too many American Idols clones running loose on air) but the finals is something else – you will be surprised to see just how many talented Malaysians are there. Equally interesting was the local dance competitions.

Alinda Alphonse, the Vaanavil Talent Quest 2002 winner was voted as the “champion of the champions” whilst the Vaanavil Super Star 2011 winner, K. Logeswaran was voted in 3rd place with Ganesan (2010 winner, I think) taking the 2nd placing. This year’s singing competition was a bit different from previous years with Astro rounding up the past winners from the various singing & talent competitions to compete with each other. It was an interesting concept and was entertaining right up to the finals and then things got screwed up (at least in my opinion)

Perhaps it was intentional or perhaps it was just a coincidental but it was clear that the method of judging and format was somehow “relaxed” to allow Alinda on a smoother path towards the final rounds. Don’t get me wrong – the lone female contestant was really, really good but she was no where as good as the more entertaining, better voiced Logeswaran who got pushed to 3rd placing (in fact, he was better than the 2nd placed Ganesan too). You may differ in your opinion but consider these facts:-

1. Logeswaran’s pick of the song Mona Lisa Mona Lisa was questioned by the judges as a “trivial” song for the finals and this caused him to lose some crucial points. But then what defines a song as a trivial song for the finals especially when it is a song composed by the famed AR Rahman? I may understand if James Vasanthan is looking from his view as a music director and trying to fit the song to the situation at hand but to hear the same from the singer Suchitra was mind boggling. She is a good example of a good singer who should not be stepping in as singing competition judge.

AR Rahman’s Mona Lisa Mona song is not an easy song to sing – the lyrics is not simple to memorize (if you don’t believe me, try listening to it) and whoever singing it need to pace himself against a faster background rhythm (a task well executed by the late Malaysian Vasudevan in the original take). Logeswaran, despite in a goofy costume (which grabbed our attentions immediately) executed well with this song and the lyrics was clear and right at the spot but ended up with getting fired from the judges (James Vasanthan & Suchitra) on the choice of song picked. Duh!

2. James Vasanthan keeps harping on Alinda’s beauty when making his comments, not only in the finals but even during the preliminary rounds – what that got to do with her singing abilities? Some entertainment and impression values, perhaps but it means nothing if you have a bad voice and amateurish singing talents despite looking good. On the other hand, how many really good singers out there who are not so good looking – haven’t James Vasanthan have heard of Susan Boyle? James, it is a singing competition and is not a beauty pageant and it should not influence the judging itself.

3. James Vasanthan commented that Ganesan’s pronunciations in Tamil were very bad but then surprise, surprise Ganesan garnered more points from the judges than Alinda (the highest during the whole show). What that means – you can win even though you have low points? It does not make any sense. Shouldn’t the points from the previous rounds have some bearing on the total points that determines the champion? After all, you are judging past winners and it is the finals – it is easy to do well at some rounds and bad in others – as a singing superstar, the one who does well in all rounds should be awarded the winner.

4. What was the purpose of the round where the contestants have a duet with KJ Yesudas? The duet with the great Yesudas should have been fair to both singers at the final round. Ganesan’s session with Yesudas was like 50-50 (which was good because we could see Yesudas in action and Ganesan was able to match Yesudas at most parts which itself is admirable) but when it comes to Alinda, it was more like 90-10 with the great Yesudas’ voice coming in occasionally (and that too in Bahasa). That meant the judges get to hear more of Alinda than Ganesan and possibly tipping more in Adlinda’s favor. Come on, out of the many thousands duet songs by Yesudas, the organizers only managed to get this song for Alinda? They could have just asked her to sing solo.

I could be wrong but I think that Astro could have done better with the singing competition for talented Malaysians to show their singing skills. We are not a power house in global Tamil music industry but we have great talents, no doubt about that. And I am surprised that Astro with all that years of organising talent competitions experience and funding is still struggling to get things done just perfect.

I am sure Astro will do their post-mortem and will do much better the next time but perhaps they could start with opting for more Malaysian “sourced” judges (no lack of them there) instead of “star” judges from India who may have seen way too many singing competition (which is good for experience but is not good when they start comparing with talents from previous competitions) and who may not recognize that there are people outside India who can sing rather well in Tamil. It will be good also if some of the audience are picked to be special judges as well (perhaps via some prior online competition with being a judge at the finals as one of the prizes).

Astro should also review on the format and points granted to the contestants with points from the previous rounds adding up to the total points – this way the contestants who screw up in the first round but have enough points to move to the next round still have a fighting chance in the next round. Who knows, perhaps they may blow away the judges in the next round? After all, it is the finals and no matter who you are, you do get nervous in the first rounds and tend to make silly mistakes but once you have warmed up, you will or forced to bring the best in you.

These are just some of the changes that Astro should look into for the up-coming singing competitions – we have the talents but let’s not eliminate them based on flawed format and poor organisation. Kudos to Astro for organising the Astro Vaanavil Superstar but let’s work on fixing the shortcomings for the next one. P.s. I still think Logeswaran should have been the winner.