The first semi-final of the annual India’s Got Talent. From here on, the fate of the contestants is now left to viewers.The first surprise of the show was Andy (of Bigg Boss fame) as the co-host with Bharti replacing Mantra. In addition there were Palak, Dadi and the cook, Raju, from Comedy Nights With Kapil (to prop up this show or to popularise their characters from what is said to be the number one non-fictional show in India.) and Bharti doing the trademarked Gutthi introductions. (The controversial exit of Gutthi from Kapil’s show – whose own show, Mad in India, premiered at the same time as India’s Got Talent, on Star Plus). The gang from Kapil practically played co-hosts, making an appearance after every act. Honestly, they were more of a nuisance than attraction – but then they are a nuisance even on Comedy Nights With Kapil.
Contestant 1 was Akshay Singh from Kolkata, A dumpling of a boy high on energy, dancing to a medley of Salman Khan’s songs. Honestly, except for his energy coupled with his young age there wasn’t way too much to recommend him – though the judges Karan Johar, Kirron Kher and Malaika Arora-Khan waxed lyrical over him.
Contestant 2 was Hassan Rizwi, the magician. Unbelievable pre-semi act with his female assistant where he seemingly took off her head. This act started the same as his audition act with him turning a piece of cloth into a duck (in his audition he turned a variety of things into pigeons) – but change came when the container into which he put the duck brought out a girl. Next, he set a small box aflame and that too brought out a girl. Five more containers (one of which he kept turning around as if gravity didn’t exist) – five more girls (seven in all). The judges lavished praise – really laid it thick, But now they only give feedback – because the contestants go to the next level depending on the votes they get.
Contestant 3, Funny Boys, a group of three from Delhi. Exaggerated, ridiculous dance-based acts, with wide open mouths, “funny” expressions and crazy get-ups. This one was on a medley of songs from Karan Johar films. But full points for co-ordination and timing in their acts. “Na sar tha na pair that”, said Karan, adding that it was very mazedaar. The judges declared their love for the Boys.
Contestant 4 were Jay-Vijay, mimic artistes. Thin, bearded, similarly built. Aided by Bharti, they did an act Red Carpet on Film Fake Awards. It started with one of them doing a damn good Amitabh. The next was a weak Farhan, followed by another excellent Shahrukh. Evidently, one of them is way above the other. Then the weak guy doing a sad Aamir followed by an awesome Hrithik. The judges were not awfully floored (it was a take-off on their fraternity after all) and Karan found the act too long.
Contestant 5: First look Crew from Mumbai. A large group of dancers of the very Western aggressive genre. Girls from different backgrounds (with one little boy in their midst) who seem to have some members even from the slums of far-flung Nalasopara – clearly confirming that talent, ambition and dedication have no barriers of class or geography. Karan praised their talent but was disappointed by their choreography.
Contestant 6 (the last act of the day): IFI Sports Academy, Haryana. In training choreographed acrobatics for one year just for this show. Excellent agility in some really scary stunts. Kirron Kher typically got terrified (regular viewers of the show surely were missing this emotion from her).
Thankfully, the Kapil gang made an appearance and an exit after this act – and Celerio (Maruti’s new car) got its turn in the spotlight. The off-takes of the judges at the end were interesting – but then, off-takes always are – ask Jackie Chan.
By Sujata Garimella