It is sad that Anuj Sharma is out of the race for Indian Idol 2. But, before his exit, this 29-year old from Himachal Pradesh did make crowds across the country go wild.
Sharma completed his Masters in Music (vocal) from Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar. He also completed his Bhaskar diploma in music (vocal) from Chandigarh, and a diploma in sound recording from Media Mates. Training under Ravikant Verma and Pandit Baldev Raj Verma only added to his qualifications.
He has, to his credit, 30 audio cassettes and 5 music videos in his mother tongue. He has also recently built a recording studio at home. His father is a retired teacher, his mother a housewife, and elder brother an engineer working in the UK. Anuj says his brother is the only reason why he is in this profession. It is he who always saw him singing and motivated him. After class 12, it is his brother who forced him to take up music for further studies.
There were times when he wanted to give up, when he could see success wasn't coming his way, but his brother always backed him. In college, his teachers were very supportive.
When Indian Idol first arrived a year ago, he didn't think it would be a big craze. But this year, as he was in Delhi, he thought of giving it a shot. He was dropped after the piano round though, and was extremely disappointed. Once home, he didn't even feel like watching the show.
But fate had something else in store for him and Jolly Das, another contestant, fell ill and had to leave. The judges felt Anuj was the best candidate to replace her. So, a month after his ouster, he was called back.
Even though he had faced the camera and sang before, the Indian Idol stage was big for him. He had the entire country as his audience. When asked what he would miss most, he said it would be this stage. "I wasn't shocked that I was out," he says, "but I was sad because I wouldn't get this stage again. This is the reason I cried. I knew one of us would have to leave with every episode, so I was nervous. But I always thought that, when that day came, I would take it in my stride."
Indian Idol did give him lots of things though. It gave him platform for his career, taught him how to interact with the audience and take all criticism positively. Now, he has decided to train himself further and pursue playback singing as his career.
Of the two remaining participants, who does he think is going to win? "Karunya is a stronger candidate," says Anuj. "He is good with classical songs, but Sandeep Acharya has a sweet voice and is more famous overall."
And what next? "If I think about where I started, I think I have achieved a lot," says Anuj. "I had lots of dreams and most of them have been fulfilled. Now, I think I should go home and put my head in my mother's lap."