Composer Anu Mallik, the resident judge on music reality show, Indian Idol for four seasons now, was missing at the press conference in New Delhi for the fifth season of Indian Idol. An audio-visual with Mallik apologising for his absence was run to make up for it. He reasoned that he was tied up with work on his forthcoming film projects and thus had to fly abroad.
He jokingly mentioned that he wanted Sunidhi Chauhan and Salim Merchant, his new co-judges on the show that goes on air on April 26, to have their share of the publicity. However, matters don’t end there. A source from the channel, on the condition of anonymity, confirms that there is a problem brewing between Sony Entertainment, the broadcaster of the show, and Mallik, since the time the show went on the floor.
“Though the figures have been kept highly confidential, there’s a vast difference between the fee that’s being paid to Sunidhi and to Anu. Sunidhi’s fee is higher and the difference has created a rift between the channel and Anu,” says the source.
Rift or no rift
Channel insiders also state that Mallik hasn’t been getting along with Chauhan, with whom he has given several hit numbers. “He constantly panned her decisions during all the audition rounds across cities. She didn’t seem to like his attitude but put up with it silently because she didn’t want to create unnecessary issues.
Anu also doesn’t like the fact that Sunidhi and Salim have been given more prominence in the promotional activities as compared to him. He didn’t like it and so, gave the press meet a miss,” informs the source. When asked Chauhan about her growing tiffs with Mallik on the sets, she passes it off as a normal heated discussion between two judges and not a permanent difference.
“I’ve known Anuji for a long time. He is a senior composer and I have always enjoyed working with him. Yes, we did have fights but they weren’t personal. They were only pointed towards filtering talent from across cities to get the best voices to surface,” she states.
However, when asked Danish Khan, marketing head, Sony Entertainment, he admitted that there were issues between the composer and the channel, but he didn’t wish to go into the details. “Yes, there are issues, but then there is nothing that can’t be sorted out through a discussion across the table.
We are trying our best to settle the matter as soon as possible because Anu Mallik is the face of the show. He has seen it through for four seasons,” adds Khan. Anu Mallik also admits that there are issues between the channel and him but refuses to divulge any details. “I’ve had a long association with Sony. We’ve done two seasons of Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega and four seasons of Indian Idol.
If the channel wants to sort out issues, I’m open to a discussion,” he adds. According to insiders, the buzz is that if the problems are not sorted from Mallik’s end soon, he may cease to be on the show. To this, business head of Sony, Ajit Thakur says that he would always want to have Mallik on the jury given the kind of popularity he has. “Anu is popular with the masses. They want him and we want the audience to stay hooked on to our show. But then it’s too early to comment on what happens in the next season. Season Five is our prime focus for now,” he states.