Palash Sen is on a roll, literally, across five cities — Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai — interviewing more than 70 contestants per day. Out of these, 14 will make it to the Fame X academy, which he heads as the dean from November.
Fame X is the new avatar of Sony’s Fame Gurukul, which makes a debut on SAB as its first reality show with a younger, sleeker feel, as highlighted in the choice of its new dean, Palash Sen.
Sen takes over the role, lived to matriarchal perfection by singer-composer Ila Arun in Fame Gurukul.
Sen, who will be spending three days a week for the 13 weeks in the Fame X house that the 14 finalists will occupy, is currently hands-on into the selection process. In a noholds-barred interview, in between the final round of the show’s last lap of auditions in Mumbai, Sen speaks on his ‘tough judge’ image, Fame X’s differential and why reality shows have captured the imagination of the nation’s youth.
You seem to come pretty tough on the contestants. Is it by choice? T
That’s the way I am — straightforward. I speak the way I feel. I give the contestants a full chance to loosen up and showcase their talents, beyond a 30 second antra recital like other shows.
What is the X-factor you are looking for?
We are not looking at playback singers.
A Fame X, a student has to be a rock star: sing, act, smile and make the audience laugh. Everyone keeps harping on about the X factor, but I think it’s about what makes a good singer attractive to the audience.
Singing is absolutely important, but so is performance, though people confuse performance for dancing.
It’s OK if you are Jim Morrison — you can just stand at one place and croon in to the mike, but times have changed.
Which city was most satisfying in terms of auditions?
The participants in Kolkata just rocked. They were the best amongst all the city auditions so far. The Ahmedabad auditions had lot of nervous participants, by the time we reached Kolkata, perhaps the word got around that we were looking at attitude. Mumbai has had the maximum professional entrants.
What’s on offer for the Fame X winner?
The winner, apart from signing an album contract with Sony-BMG, will also sing the cricket anthem for the forthcoming World Cup. And going by our cricket team’s performances, he better sing well and be inspiring enough.
What appealed to you as Fame X’s dean since you are not a fan of reality shows?
I am not a huge fan of reality shows, though I was part of Channel V Pop Stars, where I had auditioned over 1,000 singers per day. I had also been approached to be a part of the Fame Gurukul judging panel last year, but I wasn’t very keen on being the judge.
The role of the dean suits me as I don’t have to judge anyone. I will help the 14 finalists nurture their talents, which is a much more challenging profile.
Reality shows have come in for flak because of the audience voting format. Do you agree?
A reality show is made for the people and the voting process may not be fair, but what isr? Can the opinion of three judges be fair, as even they tend to differ?
If the people can chose their MPs then why question their ability to select singers.
Fame Jodi’s winner Qazi Touqeer got a lot of criticism for his singing abilities. What are your safeguards?
I have never heard Qazi sing, but I know many call him a bad singer. However, many in the media also called Himesh Reshammiya a bad singer, and now you have the same media writing glowing tributes on his Wembley concert.
If Himesh can sing, why not Qazi? However, there is no question of balancing the good with the bad this time. All the 14 have to be good singers so that whoever wins none complains that he made it through despite his singing faculties.
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