Songstories
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Songstories

I Auditioned for Indian Idol

The cat is out of the bag

Man shouting in megaphone.
Photo by Studio Romantic. Licensed purchased through Adobe Stock Images

I promised myself this secret would get buried with me one day.

Nobody — not even my family — knew of this secret until I may have spilled a bean or two in this story. It was a moment of weakness while I took a trip down memory lane looking for a funny anecdote about my life. I thought nobody would notice it.

As it turned out, whoever read that piece got fixated on the audition story. The curiosity of a handful of my readers has forced me to let this cat out of the bag. And, here I am, leaving its footprints behind on the Internet forever.

Damn you, Medium!

How did it all start?

Nobody knows whether they have a singing voice until another person validates it. I had no idea I could until a middle school teacher jumped out of his “seat” when he heard me singing in the bathroom one day.

You have a good voice. Go and meet the music teacher. I would like you to be in the school choir. I will put in a good word.

I was open to extracurricular activities. But there was a five-feet-five-inch problem — Dad.

If I had gone to the music teacher that day, he would have pulled me out of the school, bought me a second-hand harmonium, and left me singing on the local trains.

Better sense prevailed, and I went back to the math class. Otherwise, you could still find me singing on some local train in India.

But then it kept happening. During bus rides on school tours, freshmen parties, the first crush, and the college roomies, people will come up to me and compliment me on my singing voice.

I would blush, but the rational voices in my head would tell me the same thing every time it happened.

What do they know about singing? They are either being nice or nuts. And don’t forget about the harmonium and the local train.

On the day of the audition

Let’s skip some beats and fast forward to the D-day. The crew of Indian Idol was in the city for auditions. I knew they were coming, but I never considered it seriously.

Or maybe I did. Subconsciously. I remember I couldn’t sleep the night prior. The same rational voices kept telling me.

What do you have to lose? If for nothing, go for the experience. Nobody will ever know. Even if dad sees it, he will be happy at least someone from his family made it to the TV.

The treacherous little witch of the voice.

As soon as the clock struck 8 AM, I leaped out of my bed, checked if my roomies were still asleep, wore my “lucky” t-shirt and jeans, and biked away.

This is the only shareable photo from that day — Author’s Photo

The auditions were at the city hall. In the three years that I have lived in the city, I had never seen so many hot chicks in one place. There they were, queued up in front of me.

Dude, forget Indian Idol. Let’s score a chick and end the “fast.”

I was about to learn the “lucky” t-shirt and jeans wasn’t that lucky after all.

The drama unfolds

Like others, I went to go the registration desk. Everyone had to fill out a form with some basic details, and everyone got a badge with a candidate number.

420. That’s the number I got. I mean, the signs were all there. But I kept ignoring them.

What followed was a long wait before I could grace the judges with my presence. While we were waiting, everyone was the TV crew’s guinea pig.

I was made to say weird stuff like, “I am India’s next singing sensation,” “The judges will retire once they hear my voice,” and “I am He-Man.” I might have also made weird noises, raised arms in the air, cheered at the top of my lungs, and even danced a little.

Moment of truth

Anyway, I finally made it to the audition room after four hours.

“Hello, what is your name?” Sunidhi Chauhan, one of the judges, asked.

“My name is Gaurav Jain.”

“How old are you, Gaurav?”

“I am twenty-two.”

“What are you going to sing for us today?” Sonu Nigam, another judge, asked. He had no idea I was about to crucify his own masterclass composition. I wasn’t thinking.

“I will sing Yeh Dil from the movie Pardes.”

“Oh, wow! I can tell you it’s a tough song. It changed my career. Whenever you’re ready,” Sonu said.

Dil Ki Khata Bhi Hai Kya (What is the fault of this heart)

Mujhko Gila Bhi Hai Kya (What regrets should I have)

Is Dillagi Ke Siwa Dil Ne Kiya Bhi Hai Kya (This heart hasn’t done anything but love)

“Stop, stop, stop. Stop,” Sonu punctuated my flow.

Uh-oh! At that moment, I knew I was up for some ridicule. I had seen the “bad” auditions on the TV.

“Man, you got a unique voice. Have you learned any music?” Sonu asked.

“No, sir. I haven’t.”

“Hmmm…. I have your form in front of me. I see you are studying engineering. Then, why Indian Idol, Gaurav?”

“I don’t know. Since I was fifteen, people have told me I have a good voice. You said it yourself now. I thought to give it a shot. Who doesn’t want to shine in the Bollywood limelight, right?”

“I get that. But did it ever occur to you that everyone told you have a good voice? Not that you can sing,” Anu Malik, India’s Simon Cowell, intervened.

“Anu Ji, let me take this one. Please,” Sonu told him.

“So, if everyone told you that you have a good voice, why didn’t you learn music then?” Sonu asked me.

“You know how it is. Not all parents approve of a career outside engineering or medicine in this country. Dad wouldn’t have liked it.”

“I get it. But listen, dude, sorry to say this, but despite a good voice, you can’t sing. If you want to pursue this as a career, you have a long road ahead.” said Sonu.

“No, not at all. I guess I just got carried away with all those past compliments. Sorry, I wasted your time. Can I go?”

“Don’t be sorry. It takes guts to stand where you are standing right now.”

Sonu walked towards me, we shook hands, and he said, “and as for Bollywood limelight, it sucks. If you still want to be part of it, you can do it through your engineering. Learn animation, editing, etc. Not everything in Bollywood is about acting and singing, you know.”

He walked me to the door, and that was it. Not the entertainment value my readers were expecting. I guess that’s why my audition never made the final cut.

I walked to the parking lot across the street, where my bike was parked. I went back to my room, where I found my friends drinking beer, playing FIFA, and singing. I went back to my life.

Whenever I hear this song now, I ask myself if I could turn back time and go to my middle school music teacher to join the choir, would I?

Oh, absolutely!

This is the song I tried to sing. Sorry, couldn’t find a version with English subtitles YouTube Video

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The songs we listen to change us. They shape how we feel and what we do. Let’s share stories of how songs shape our world. Let’s share the experience.

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Gaurav Jain

Gaurav Jain

I have three TVs, two cars, and one wife.

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