Sunday, July 29, 2007

Parleen Gill, Indian Idol and the Mahabharata

Was watching the elimination round of the Indian Idol yesterday and was enthralled by the intense drama. Parleen Gill - handsome, young - and most importantly, the one word that comes to my mind as I watched the reactions all around - noble. Co-contestants cried inconsolably as the young man held himself bravely - holding his pain within, as if by doing so it would lessen theirs. Grown men sobbed, girls had tears streaming down their faces and every soul that acknowledged the fall of a noble soul, had moist eyes.
I am certain that some of the contestants, if not all, had a fleeting thought in their minds that they would have willingly traded places, that if this was what competition was, then they did not want to be a part of it. Seasoned judges like Alisha and Anu Malik cried unabashedly. The composed and cool Mini Mathur broke down completely towards the end. And it was only when he could hold his pain no more - when it was obvious that despite all that he tried to, in vain- did the brave and worthy lad break down, last in the line.
I do not know Parleen. But what I saw was enough for me to know that here was someone who commanded respect and admiration from friend and foe alike. As he sang his farewell song, every word dripping with the pain of separation, every moment growing bigger with the sadness of a reality that was slowly sinking in, yet holding himself because as a true performer he knows that the "show must go on", there was one moment when the camera caught what was a defining moment - something I could watch over and over again - the young boy closing his eyes tight as if to hold his pain in as he paused before a stanza before singing powerfully on...
Javed Akhthar knew what he was saying when he said that Parleen would find success and this was no defeat. I would like to believe in that too. Not because I am some crazed hysterical fan of his (on merit he would have been on my botom two) but because I believe that a noble soul will get his or her due. Parleen knows he is not the best of the singers left in the competition but everyone knows that he had the heart to come out and hold his own against the sheer class of someone like Amit Paul in the past few episodes. And to do that consistently as the competition intensified, to push his boundaries far out byond known borders each time, needs great courage and self belief - and a big heart always wins in my book and I am sure in many others as well.
For all the heroics of the Pandavas, Karna remains the true hero of the Mahabharata to me. The moment when Karna is taken out of the equation by Arjuna, when he is unarmed and his chariot wheel is stuck in mud, is a moment when the warfields of Kurukshetra go dark - when a deathly silence sweeps across the fields, the worlds, and the hearts of all those who hear the story. It is the same feeling - the exit of a noble soul.
To me Parleen Gill walked off not in defeat certainly. No. Because I don't think even the eventual winner would be able to generate that kind of a drama in the final. To me it would be difficult for any other moment to match this episode as the high point of this version of Indian Idol. I'd like to be proven wrong because that would indicate the presence of another worthy in the ranks and I'd like to see more of them.
The world needs more such.
For now, good for you Parleen and good luck. I would, and I think anyone would, trade an exit like that for even a win in the final.

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