Reality TV Singing Shows in India have time and again given contestants a dream of a better life, a better income and a better future overall. ‘Indian Idol’, which started in 2004, has been one such show. It has been running successfully for the past 12 years. However, it has not been a smooth sail for the show. There have been numerous ups and downs, lots of controversies, and not much has happened to the contestants after winning the show.
‘Indian Idol’ has been shrouded in a few controversies over the years. One of the most prominent controversies has been that of getting contestants from poor and downtrodden backgrounds. People have time and again trolled the show on social media for showing contestants who are either specially-abled or who have come up from really poor family backgrounds. The makers of the show have always claimed that the selection criterion has always been fair and just for everyone who comes for the auditions, but still, somehow every season this controversy pops up, where it seems contestants are getting votes from audiences because of their background and not for their singing talent.
Another controversy that has come to the forefront quite often is when judges continue to praise a contestant even when their singing has not been that good. Many judges have off-the-record said that the makers of the show quite often push them to talk good about the contestants’ performances and not put them down badly. Singer Sonu Nigam, who had been a regular judge from the very first season of the show, after facing this issue, decided to move on and not return as the judge of ‘Indian Idol’.
As mentioned at the start of the article, these contestants of the show are given the hope that they will be having a sorted life after the show. However, the reality is quite harsh and not many of the winners, forget the others, have made it big in life. Here’s what the winners of the seasons are up to now:
Abhijeet Sawant (Winner – Season 1)
Abhijeet Sawant was the first winner of the singing competition. He was adored for his sweet voice and amassed a large fan base in a short period of time. After winning the competition, Abhijeet Sawant released his own album. The first album was a roaring success. Soon afterwards, he sang a few Bollywood songs. However, he never made any big inroads into the music industry thereafter. A few years later, he competed on Asian Idol, where he finished third. He even tried his hand at acting in a few films but failed miserably.
Sandeep Acharya (Winner – Season 2)
Sandeep Acharya, a Bikaner-born middle-class youngster, won the second season of ‘Indian Idol’ in 2006. The event offered him the opportunity to perform several Bollywood songs, but he couldn’t capitalize a lot on that success. The show did make him well-known in the Rajasthani film business. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with jaundice a few years later and he died in 2013.
Prashant Tamang (Winner – Season 3)
Prashant Tamang became popular coming in from Darjeeling and winning the show. After winning the show, he released his own song CDs. He was fluent in both Hindi and Nepalese. He sang in both the languages. However, soon afterwards he went into oblivion.
Sourabhee Debbarma (Winner – Season 4)
Sourabhee Debbarma was the first female winner of the famous singing competition. She released her own music CD, 'Meherbaan,' which did well with the audiences. She also set a Guinness World Record for singing upside-down for 4.30 minutes. That’s the last audiences have heard of her as she is nowhere to be seen anymore.
Sreerama Chandra (Winner – Season 5)
Sreerama Chandra is probably a rare gem who has been able to benefit a lot from singing reality shows. Hailing from south India he won the fifth season of Indian Idol. The show catapulted him to stardom in the South Indian cinema business. He acted in a few films and has been singing in numerous south movies. In Hindi as well, he keeps singing with popular music composers like Amaal Mallik, Pritam and a few others. His song ‘Subanallah’ from the movie ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ is one of the most memorable ones. He claims to be able to sing in seven different languages, and that has been the USP of his journey as he keeps shuffling between music industries and singing songs in different languages.
Vipul Mehta (Winner – Season 6)
‘Indian Idol’ made Vipul Mehta famous. After winning the competition, he released his debut album, ‘Hello Namaste Sat Sri Akal’. Sadly, it didn’t do well. Soon he was nowhere to be seen. As per reports, he still continues to do stage shows and live concerts, but he has not had any luck as such in film music.
Anjana Padmanabhan (Winner – Indian Idol Junior 1)
Anjana Padmanabhan won the first season of ‘Indian Idol Junior’ which was a spin-off of the main ‘Indian Idol’ show. She was merely 10 years old at the time of winning the trophy. She has been doing stage shows alongside her regular studies and other day-to-day activities.
Ananya Nanda (Winner – Indian Idol Junior 2)
Ananya Nanda won Season 2 of Indian Idol Junior. While she was still in the competition, she got a two-year record deal with Universal Music India. After winning she released her debut album 'Mausam Mastana' under the Universal Music label. However, the album received a lukewarm response. Nanda has since sung a few songs in movies here and there, but nothing substantial. She moved back to her hometown Bhubhaneshwar in Odisha, and has been singing quite a few songs in Odia movies. A few years back, she even participated in another reality show ‘Rising Star’. However, she didn’t win this time but ended her journey in the Top 5.
LV Revanth (Winner – Season 9)
LV Revanth, the winner of Indian Idol Season 9, after the two ‘Indian Idol Junior’ seasons is another singer from the south who created ripples across the southern music industry. Revanth demonstrated his talent when he performed for ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’. He is one of the prominent singers of today’s times in the Telugu music industry.
Salman Ali (Winner – Season 10)
Salman Ali won the tenth season and soon afterwards became a mentor for another show ‘Superstar Singer’. Even though not much has moved in the direction of his personal music career, he keeps content by doing numerous stage shows and live events. However, he is slowly and steadily making a mark in film music. He had done a few singles with composer Himesh Reshammiya, who was one of the judges of ‘Indian Idol’.
Sunny Hindustani (Winner – Season 11)
Sunny Hindustani has not been that active in the music industry ever since he won the ‘Indian Idol’ title. He began with his YouTube channel and has taken a full-fledged interest in entertaining his followers digitally at the time.
Pawandeep Rajan (Winner – Season 12)
Pawandeep Rajan won the last season that had been plagued a lot because of the pandemic lockdown. While Rajan won the hearts of the filmmakers and music composers who used to come to the show as judges, not many have yet offered him numerous songs in their films. Himesh Reshammiya, one of the judges, has however been helping out Rajan and other contestants from this season and giving them numerous singles to sing. Along with the other finalists of the season, Rajan plans to keep touring places and doing shows.