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This article was first published 18 years ago  » Movies » Why I quit Indian Idol II

Why I quit Indian Idol II

By Archana Pania
Last updated on: November 21, 2005 14:28 IST
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Archana PaniaIt's been over a month now. When they found out I had qualified for the second round of Indian Idol II, my family and friends were a lot more excited than I was. I simply had mixed feelings. There had been no childhood dreams of winning a singing competition, after all! Still, it's always fun when you're not taking things too seriously.

The best thing is, this reality show gave me a much-needed reality check.

To start at the beginning, what helped was the fact that there were a lot of other people – including my boss, colleagues, the watchman from Nepal and neighbours – who felt pride at the thought that I was a contestant. Then there was that little thing about emotion – the idea that millions experienced what each contestant went through. It was a bit like war, with participants fighting a battle to win the hearts of millions. Neighbouring aunties promised to vote for me, and even the office canteen boy looked at me differently when he realised I was part of the show!

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So, keeping all this in mind, and ignoring that nagging voice in my head asking me not to attempt Round Two, I went for it. How I wish I hadn't.

At this point, I can't help recalling an incident from the first round. I was the third person in line when, without warning, a camera and crew shot up in front of me. Wearing a fake smile, a man asked, "Why do you think you will be the next Indian Idol?" Without a second's delay, I replied, "I don't think I will be." People around me burst out laughing. But I was just being honest.

Coming back, I was just not sure about attempting Round Two. I realised I would be just another face generating interesting content for people to giggle about. I knew I wasn't hungry for the title. My colleagues were shocked. I told them I was not interested in sleeping and waking up to a camera just to entertain people. I am not a personality or an actor (who is getting paid for the same). All I had wanted was a bit of fun. So, going through Round Two would mean a waste of not just my time, but also that of the judges and production crew.

But one of my colleagues was insistent. She said she wouldn't go if I didn't. And she had been taking singing lessons for 13 years! I couldn't help agree.

We arrived well in time. One of the women at the show was trying hard to be nice. She probably remembered me from the last time, when I had given her a piece of my mind for making us wait 13 hours without food before asking us for a sound byte.

ll contestants are given accommodation for four days during the qualifying round. The girl I mentioned asked us to check in with our bags. Considering I didn't have one, she scoffed at me for the 27th time, gave me someone else's bag, and told us to walk in holding it while they filmed!

There was work to be done at the office, so my colleague and I begged to be let off for a few hours. All the while, I continued to dither. Should I, shouldn't I? I didn't want to go on, but, at the same time, there was that free five-star accommodation to consider. Five hours later, I ended up returning to the shoot. We returned to find a panicky production guy, who said that other contestants had also wanted to go out after we left. Apparently, we had set a bad example, so the show's producer wanted to talk to us. We were duly asked not to leave for the next three days. We could go only where they told us to go, and do only what they asked us to.

After a short conversation with my boss over the cell phone, during which I giggled a lot, my colleague asked me to keep it down. She said there had been insinuations by the production crew that I didn't care about being the next Indian Idol. Laughing was not allowed. At that point, I knew I had to make up my mind. Was I going to take their behaviour? Or was I going to laugh my way out of the place?

I called a friend, a guy I refer to as my spiritual guide. All he said was that if there was no passion in it, and if I was in a "don't know" zone, maybe it wasn't for me. He was right. I had never had much to do with singing. I had tried learning from two gurus in the past, both of whom I had run away from. So, why spend time with people who clearly knew little about music – let alone 'launching' talent – and compete for something I didn't want in the first place? Just to make my neighbours happy?

Turning to my colleague, I told her I had to get out. I hugged her, wished her luck and left.

Looking back, those eight hours changed my life. I stood up for myself. I felt good about the fact that no one managed to take my laughter away from me. I could giggle as much as I wanted to.

A few people still refer to me as 'Idol'. I'm hoping they stop. Soon. I can see no pride in being someone who smiles when he or she is told to. I don't need a title for being someone's puppet. I like my own title, Archana Pania! And, you know what, I don't need a million votes to burst into song whenever I feel like either...

Archana Pania is the resident jockey at Rediff Radio and got through two rounds of Indian Idol II.

Archana's photograph: Jagatdeep Singh | Indian Idol photograph: Jewella C Miranda

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Archana Pania