What do names such as Harshvardhan Nawathe, Abhijeet Sawant, Sunil Pal and Neha Bhasin have in common? Winners of India’s earliest reality shows on TV, these people basked in the glory of their newfound fame, as they became household names. But where are they now and what are they up to?
Indian Idol 1 winner Sawant believes that despite getting a big launch pad with the reality hunt, he is still struggling in Bollywood. “Winning doesn’t guarantee one success throughout one’s career. I might be famous after Indian Idol but I’m still a struggler in playback singing” he says.
Meanwhile ‘crorepati’ Harshvardhan Nawathe who became the first person to win the prize money on Kaun Banega Crorepati has gone back to leading a normal life. He is currently working with the Naandi Foundation, an organisation benefiting the underprivileged.
However, his contemporaries took a different path. Funny man Sunil Pal who won The Great Indian Laughter Challenge in 2005 turned film director with Bhavnao Ko Samjho (2009), which made it to the Guinness Book Of World Records for starring 51 comedians.
Despite the movie bombing at the box-office, Pal is planning a sequel. “I am working on it. It should release next year. There are other movies which I’m acting in, in the pipeline also. Meanwhile, my live shows will continue.”
He is not the only one who ventured into a different terrain after dabbling with his original talent. Singer Neha Bhasin, winner of Channel V Popstars, has turned actor with Rakesh Mehta’s forthcoming film, Zara Hat Ke Zara Bach Ke. But Neha, who performed extensively with her girl-band Viva for two years before the band called it a day, says music is still her first love.
“I believe I am a popstar and will always be one. Rakesh had to convince me to act. I am not hungry for fame and would rather work towards achieving success rather than take short cuts,” Bhasin says.
With a huge turnover of reality TV stars every few months, Neha feels “sorry for talented singers who are promised jobs by music directors on TV and not given a chance once the show ends”. “Things were much better during our time,” she adds. While Bhasin tries her luck at movies, former band-mate Anushka Manchanda looks forward to making it big with her own pop-rock band Shkabang, having already tasted success with playback singing in Bollywood and VJing on TV. Anushka was last seen participating in the recently concluded series of Jhalak Dikhhlaa Jaa.