With Ali as Randy, Bushra as Simon and Hadiqa as Paula, what will Pakistan Idol look like?

Published: December 9, 2013
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Pakistan Idol is finally here and it is good to see reality television in Pakistan being done this professionally. PHOTO: PAKISTAN IDOL Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PakistanIdol)

Pakistan Idol is finally here and it is good to see reality television in Pakistan being done this professionally. PHOTO: PAKISTAN IDOL Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PakistanIdol) Pakistan Idol is finally here and it is good to see reality television in Pakistan being done this professionally. PHOTO: PAKISTAN IDOL Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PakistanIdol)

After creating much hype and expectation, Pakistan Idol is finally here and it is good to see reality television in Pakistan being done this professionally. Having been an avid follower of American Idol for more than six years, I have to say that the Pakistani team of Idol has done a commendable job; from the pre-launch publicity, the judges, the contestants, the fun and the drama, everything about the show makes it a must-watch!

So let’s get down to business. Here is my first impression of the show:

The contestants

I was pleasantly surprised to see the size of the crowd outside the venue. It was definite proof that there are people out there who believe in themselves and their dreams, while here I was thinking that we, as a nation, could not even dare to dream. Kudos to the producers for helping people reaffirm belief in themselves.

The first contestant, Sana Zulfiqar, was a testament to that. She might have brought her own twist to the songs she sang (sometimes too much of a twist, even) and Bushra Ansari might have been a tad hard on her, but the girl had a good voice. I was glad to see that she made it to the next round. As Mohib Mirza, the host, turned to the crowd to ask them for their response, it was clear that they too, were as excited as I was to see her make it the next round. On a side note, it was sweet of Ali Azmat to have made the effort of meeting her parents.

Rafay, the second contestant, well, he may have believed a little too much in himself. Although he did add spice to the show with his comedic drama, his vocals were simply ear-shattering. Ali Azmat was absolutely correct in passing the ‘Lady Gaga and Madonna’ remark because even in my opinion, he did seem to be a fan of the two. The guy was surely not ‘born this way’. However, Bushra Ansari was kinder when she said that he was just a ‘different’ kind of person. Rafay’s audition, as expected, did not go very well.

Moving on to the third contestant, Tayyaba. Her audition was sweet but she did not make it to the next round. While it is always sad to see the sweet ones go, I am sure the judges know best.

The auditions reel was shared with the all the contestants and audience members. Watching it made it quite obvious that the competition will be very tough. After all, this is the first season and standards need to be set right from the start.

Next came the Lahori Pathan guy, Yasir Khan – or Pappu, as Ali Azmat referred to him – with an emotional story of how his family did not support his dreams. I am sure his selection made many a viewer happy, especially the girls.

Although Haseeb Sultan Abdul’s story was also heart-breaking, it was even more painful to see him go. Bushra Ansari, however, was correct in saying that a person’s financial situation cannot make up for a lack of talent.

The ‘Salman Khan’ contestant, Shehzad Ali, added the much-needed humour aspect to the competition, especially after being subjected to such emotional auditions.

Although the next girl, Nimra, had a decent voice, the judges were right in letting her go since they felt she could have definitely given a much better performance. The contestant who came after her, Imran, once again provided comic relief to the show. He had passion, but he was just not cut out for the competition. He got so involved in his performance, that when he opened his eyes, the judges had vanished – their way of saying ‘No’ – whilst making sure they kept the humour alive.

Although the last contestant was hanging by a thread, it was good to see him make it, after which the show ended with a compilation of all the contestants who had made it through the first round.

The judges

Many people have criticised the judges in Pakistan Idol. I personally think that the show is not only about bringing in people who understand music; but it is also about people who connect to the viewers and contestants alike. Being a judge is not simply about critiquing a contestant’s performance, it is also about being able to lure the audience into believing what you have to say.

It is about being human and being real. And all three judges were able to connect with contestants and viewers alike. This is something that makes such shows fun and keeps the audience hooked.

Ali Azmat

One person from the music industry, who I believe is admired by one and all. He is not only a great singer but also a spectacular performer. Of course, being the judge in a show as substantial as Pakistan Idol, is a difficult task but the first episode was a testament to the fact that Ali will be a judge who will not only make selections for the heck of it, but will also critique the contestants and their performance to make sure that it is a learning experience too. If the first episode was anything to go by, he will prove to be a great judge and mentor for the contestants.

Bushra Ansari

I have only seen Bushra Ansari’s acting and was surprised when my mother told me that she happens to be a brilliant singer as well. Since this is a reality television show, it was encouraging to know that there is someone on board who understands all sides of the entertainment industry. She was the strict judge on the show and while it might be too early to label her, I can see her being the Simon Cowell of Pakistan Idol.

Hadiqa Kiani

She is good at pop music, understands the industry and has played around with folk music, so she knows the music traditions of this country quite well. However, she did seem to struggle with rejecting contestants and was trying her best to let them down easy. Hence, one can very well expect her to be the Paula Abdul of the show.

The host

Mohib Mirza is apparently ‘the man’ in the entertainment industry. He is an amazing actor and already has a large fan following. He is fun, comes up with canny comments and his connection with the participants is worth applauding.

He is the perfect choice for a host and with his amazing hosting skills, I can bet that he will gain even more followers.

The verdict

Although this is just the beginning, it has been a strong beginning. Pakistan Idol seems well on its way to raging success with its publicity, entertainment value and judges.

Prepare to be addicted!

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Haseeb Sultan

Haseeb Sultan

The author is is a dentist, writer, and an artist. He blogs at blog.haseebsultan.com and tweets at @haseebsultan_ (twitter.com/haseebsultan_)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.