Seven months after he auditioned to participate in the third edition of Indian Idol, 24-year-old Prashant Tamang from Darjeeling clinched the title, beating the other finalist, Amit Paul, also 24.
Tamang and Paul together polled seven crore votes — the highest ever polled in a reality TV contest show, claimed hosts Mini Mathur and Hussain Kuwajerwala at the glitzy finale at Delhi's open-air NSIC ground. Special guests actor John Abraham and singer Sukhwinder Singh entertained and enthralled the 5,000-strong crowd — rooting for Tamang all evening — during the three-hour event.
"I thank my mother," said an emotional Tamang after Abraham announced him the winner. As soon as he did that, Tamang's sister came on stage and placed a traditional, Nepali cap on his head. "I thank the police force for allowing me (leave) to participate in the show, the judges and the public." Tamang won a Rs 1-crore contract with BMG for an album, a Maruti SX4 and a Sony Erricsson cellphone.
Paul too will take home the same car and handset model. Music director and one of the judges, Anu Mallik, gave Paul a bear hug as soon as the winner was announced. Earlier in the evening, Mallik made sure both finalists sang his songs — a total of seven — among the several Bollywood and Punjabi numbers that the two belted out. Former Idols Abhijit Sawant and Sandeep Acharya and this edition's final 11 contestants gave Tamang and Paul company on stage.
News channels played spoilsport by flashing the winner's name way before the 12 am embargo set by channel Sony Entertainment and production company Miditech.