Staging a Debut

Indian Ocean's Rahul Ram, one of judges on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, talks about fitting into the world of reality television and his band's future.

On the sets of television show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, the judges, as a customary gesture of appreciation, walk up to the stage with a medal in hand every time a contestant gives a knock-out performance. Music composers Sajid and Wajid Ali hop and skip their way to the stage and singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan moves with controlled grace. Having enough experience featuring in reality shows, they know their moves by now.

The fourth judge of the show, despite his earnest efforts to fit in, seems a bit out of place. This, after all, isn't a world Rahul Ram, the vocalist and bassist of the band Indian Ocean is familiar with. Instead of the open-air stage is an enclosed, studio setting and in place of a spirited, uninhibited crowd are two sets of orchestrated audience, clapping when required.

"I am trying to adjust. When I see these guys, Sajid, Wajid and Shankar, I realise I don't know Bollywood at all," says Ram. He still retains the twinkle in the eye, apart from the trademark kurta-bandana. He decided to take up the offer of being one of the judges for Sa Re Ga Ma Pa a singing talent hunt show as the show wanted him in a role of who he was. "When they approached me, I asked, why me? But they said they wanted my kind of perspective in the fabric of the show; they are looking beyond playback, looking for performers," he says.

He always had a problem with the conventional trappings of Bollywood music. Sa Re Ga Ma's new attempt, he says, promises to look beyond Bollywood. "There are some conventions that need to be broken. For example, why should one have to sing in all the genres? If you are good at one, just be damn good at it. For me, it has always been feel over technique, and these are few things the show is trying to encourage," he says.

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