American Idol star Sanjaya Malakar was in town with sister Shyamali to shoot a commercial. Naomi Canton catches them together.
Sanjaya what have you been doing since the American Idol ended?
All ten finalists went on a three-month tour around the US. We performed live at different events. Since then I have been speaking to producers and musicians, doing charity events and private shows.
What are you doing in India apart from shooting the advertisement?
Shyamali and I are here to scout for producers and musicians for our next album. I'm planning an album of world sounds, so I need musicians from different countries. I have this guy from Tokyo who plays the keyboard using his hands and feet. I want to do world-influenced pop and sing in different languages.
Would you think of settling down in India?
Anything can happen in the next 10 years. You have a huge fan club. I have a few fan sites the official one was set up by a girl who is a die-hard fan. I have fans of different ages but most of them are girls.
Do you message them? Not everyone.
If I did I'd be just doing that, 24/7. Every once in a while I write a blog on the website.
Are you in touch with the girl who went on a hunger strike and wouldn't touch a morsel till you were kicked off American Idol?
I think she was doing it more for self-publicity.
What do you think of Indian Idol?
I think the standard in India is far higher than in America. Indian classical music is far more complicated.
If you had won, would it have made a big difference to your career?
No way In fact, had I bagged the music contract it would have limited my career. They try and mould you in an American Idol way. But the show did give me a lot of exposure. It made me the kind of unique artist I wanted to become.
Shyamali, you've been very quiet. Tell us about your kind of music.
It's an Indian-flavoured jazz fusion. My music has a lot of Indian influences as I studied Indian vocal techniques and the classical Odissi dance form while I was in college in the United States.
Why don't the two of you sing together?
We'd rather be two separate artists. Once our respective albums are out, we can sing together. I have already written a few songs for him.
Shyamali, you didn't make it to the final 24. What happened?
I think they wanted competition between siblings and we weren't prepared to give them that.
Would it have helped if you had gone further?
I don't think so. Everyone knows I am Sanjaya's sister. I even have a fan section on his website.