He walked towards the backstage area, trying to put up a brave face. But his sheepish smile was not convincing.
Seventeen-year old Vinit Singh, who was the Mumbai crowd's favourite, was immediately thronged by a number of fans, mostly girls and children. As he signed autographs, a child walked towards him and demanded: 'Kyun haara? (Why did you lose?)'
The brave smile disappeared as a dejected Vinit said, "Tum ne vote nahin kiya hoga (You must not have voted)."
This incident, at the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai after the culmination of the Grand Finale of the Hero Honda Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2005, probably summed up the day.
A day, when so-near-yet-so-far Vinit and eventual winner Debojit Saha went neck-to-neck, or rather note-to-note, against each other. Unfortunately, there had to be only one winner.
The show started at 7.30 pm, and went on for almost three hours, with the stadium packed to the hilt.
Celebrities like Fardeen Khan, Dia Mirza, Johnny Lever, Kunal Kapoor, director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, santoor maestro Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, singers Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Abhijeet, Kunal Ganjawala, Jagjit Singh and the Pakistani ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali were also present.
Vinit and Debojit sang songs that were picturised on Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan respectively. We wonder whether it was a conscious decision since there was a buzz that the King Khan would attend the Grand Finale (he did not, eventually).
Yet, though the songs were popular and the two did complete justice to them, one got the feeling that songs like Chand taare (Yes Boss), Ek pal ka jeena (Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai), Baadshah o baadshah (Baadshah), It's magic (Koi... Mil Gaya), Kaal kaal mein (Kaal) and Dil ne dil ko pukara (Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai) did not befit the climax of a competition that has maintained high singing standards throughout.
After the final duel between Debojit and Vinit, the voting was declared closed. Other performances followed, with the other 10 finalists singing the latest chartbusters. Shaan joined in, singing along with Debojit and Vinit. Other highlights of the evening included a performance by Dia Mirza, and a beautiful rendition of Jiya dhadak (Kalyug) by Himani Kapoor, who got a special award for being the leading female contestant.
While Vinit was the darling of the Mumbai crowd, Debojit's popularity in his home state probably turned the tables at the end of the day. Shaan revealed that there have been almost 3 crore (30 million) votes from the east zone, as compared only to 1.5 crore votes from Lucknow boy Vinit's north zone.
Debojit scraped through by a tiny margin of 0.2 per cent votes.
This is not to say that Debojit did not deserve the victory. He has got a fine voice that is just right for playback singing. Yet, the loopholes of the voting system have been now exposed.
Yes, it helps the television ratings and manages to rake up a lot of moolah, but such a system belies the importance of quality singing.
Since the argument of viewers voting in only for their local heroes has now gained ground, one wonders whether there should be a system wherein the final stages should be judged only by professionals.
Why not have the top honchos of the music world judging the finals, the way Sa Re Ga Ma Pa always has been?
Moreover, is this the last we have heard of this?
Producer Gajendra Singh has a lot to think about.