He had a brief affair with Channel V’s Super Singer as judge. And then A.R. Rahman didn’t bite the bait for any of the reality TV shows that followed. Though music is his passion, he always made it clear he had nothing to do with those on the small screen. But then 9X made it possible as it roped in the music maestro to be on the jury of their recently started Mission Ustaad.
Mission Ustaad, an Endemol-UN-9X collaboration brings together four singer jodis – Sunali and Roopkumar Rathod, Mahalaxmi Iyer and Kailash Kher, Shreya Pandit and Naresh Iyer, Vasundhara Das and Mohit Chauhan – who will make their own songs. But since the UN is involved, the songs will have an inherent message too. Each week,the jodi will get judges’ marks and audience votes, but there won’t be any elimination. At the end of 13 weeks, the scores of each pair would be accumulated and those with the highest marks will be declared the Ustaads.
Ask the reticent Rahman why he chose to take up this particular show when he might have been offered others in the past and he says, “Yes, I was, but a few months ago I had composed an anti-poverty anthem for the UN. The video had been appreciated and that’s when the concept of doing something more musically came up to talk about their millennium development goals. India had pledged with the UN to fulfill the goals of removing poverty, ensuring education to each and every child and other such issues by 2015. Since we haven’t had too much progress on that front, it was time to remind everyone about those goals."
"Just talking about them would have been boring, preachy stuff, but when you combine them with music and turn into an entertaining show, we just might get the people to listen in”, adds Rahman..
Unlike other music shows, in Mission Ustaad the ratings of the jury will matter more than the voting public. So was that another reason to accept it? “Yes, that too. I haven’t watched other reality shows, but I have heard that when the judging is left to the viewers, the judges’ position doesn’t hold any importance, the good singers tend to get affected and voted out and everything becomes a mess.”
Reality shows are often marked by heated arguments among the jury. Has he had any differences with the other judges, Javed Akhtar and Lara Dutta? (Laughs) “Yes, I believe they do, but in our show though we have different opinions, there are no pretensions to get the TRPs.” Does he think reality TV shows do any good to talent especially when it tends to get overshadowed by judges, gimmicks and controversies? “To me, more these shows, the merrier. When we see so much of violence, hatred and negativity around, in our everyday lives we can definitely watch shows with new talent, and which do music a lot of good. That alone is the saving factor, not the bickering judges or the unfair audience vote.”
Today’s films have hardly any music. Hasn’t it then become a case of too many singers and too less to sing? “I agree with you completely. There’s too much of a clutter there but at the same time, it’s no longer about anybody just making it. You have the talent, you will go far. Nothing more than that.”
His presence on the show was touted to be his grand debut by the channel. Has he enjoyed all the attention? Will he take up more television? “(Laughs) I enjoyed it more than I expected. Actually, if it’s music then I definitely feel excited. I will take up other shows if it’s going to be any good for music or if it takes music to the next level.” He says he liked “a couple of songs from Om Shanti Om and Saawariya and I liked them…though I didn’t sit and analyse what was right or wrong with them, I enjoyed listening to them.” Coming up next is Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar, “Jaane Tu Jaane Na which Aamir Khan is producing, it’s a young love story and a film called Ada. They all should come out in the next three four months,” he signs off.
Author: Suhaani Rai