FOG Idol auditions kick off at Fremont Hindu Temple


India Post News Service

FREMONT, CA: FOG Idol, the singing contest, which was started in recent times to discover and promote singing talent in all ages, had its first two auditions this month – on Saturday, July 7 and last Saturday, July 21.

The July 7 round featured quite a few talented singers. Manisha Pathak was the first singer. She sang a high pitched number, originally rendered by Lata Mangeshkar – “O Sajana…”.

Svara Shimpi, in the 5-8 years’ age group, sang a classical bhajan and so did Mishti Bhatia in the 8-12 years age group. Mishti sang a rather difficult classical bhajan with the accompaniment of the “tampura” sound on a device in the background. Usually in FOG Idol rounds, judges ask the contestants to sing a song without any musical accompaniment to gauge their ability to hold complex tunes. They may also ask for a second number to test the contestant’s versatility.

In the 12-17 age group, Tanya Gupta, a teenager with tremendous poise, wowed the judges with her rendition of a modern Bollywood song and her second performance was even better as she soared on the high notes of the iconic Celine Dion song, “My Heart Will Go On…” from the blockbuster, “Titanic”.

July 21 Grp Saumya Niraj Devarsh

Samvi Ranka from the 8-12 years’ age group, was also a finalist last year. This time, she gave an excellent performance of the Lata Mangeshkar number, “Dil hoom hoom kare…” from the film, “Rudaali”, hitting the high pitch with ease and grace.

Alka Bhatnagar, one of Bay Area’s most well known singers and a Hindustani classical music instructor, was a judge along with Lakshmi Iyer (this correspondent). Lakshmi studied Carnatic music for a couple of years when she was younger and also performed in group competitions in school and solos in college.

Mrs. Bhatnagar’s students were among those who auditioned. In order to avoid bias, the average of judging scores will be taken into account and for the finals, there will be 3-5 judges.

On July 21, there was a range of contestants, both in age and genres of melodies. The first contestant, performing in the 8-12 years age group, was Saumya Anand. She was one of the winners last year, too. Her mother, Aparna Anand said that Saumya was intent on singing a Hindi song this time, as she had been asked to do that last time by one of the judges (She had sung a number from Disney’s “Moana”). Saumya trains in Western vocals.
This time, she prepared with her parents helping her to master the pronunciation of Hindi and she gave a phenomenal performance of “Main Kaun Hoon” from the film, “Secret Superstar”.
For her second song without any accompanying music, she sang Anna Kendrick’s number, “You’re gonna miss me when I am gone…”.

Manisha Pathak
Manisha Pathak

There was a father-son duo in the fray – Niraj Jani and his five year old, Devarsh. Niraj’s wife was present, too, along with Devarsh’s baby sister. Niraj displayed an amazing vocal ability with his ‘aalaaps’ during his rendition of “Jab deep jale aana…”. For his second number, he sang a pop kind of modern Bollywood number originally sung by KK, thus showing immense versatility.

Devarsh sang a few lines of “Jab deep jale aana…”, trying to follow in the footsteps of his father and egged on by his parents. Later, he sang a few lines of a Gujarati song.

Shivika Srivastava, the last contestant of the day, was from the 8-12 years age group, too. In a devout manner, she offered prayers at the altar and then, came up to the stage and beautifully sang a bhajan, “Kanha re…” in the raag “Kedar” to the accompaniment of the “tambura” tune on a device. For her non-background music section, she sang, “Main tainu samjhavan ki…”, one of Bollywood’s recent soulful hits.
Shivika replied in perfect, wonderful Hindi when asked questions.

Somdutta Ray and Lakshmi Iyer were the judges on July 21. Somdutta, who hails from the artistic city of Kolkata, teaches Rabindra Sangeet to some kids and is from a background of media sales.

FOG Idol promises to be a close competition this year with so many talented singers. There are more rounds still to go, with the next audition on July 28. Finals will be held at the ‘mela’ grounds on Sunday, August 19.

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