Former Indian Idol host Mini Mathur has responded to an ex-contestant’s tweets alleging humiliation, lack of basic amenities and violence on the show’s sets. Nishant Kaushik, who claims to have reached the third round of the audition process in the 2012 edition of the show, wrote a series of tweets in which he described in great detail the ‘abuse’ certain contestants were subjected to.
“(Indian Idol) is a perfect platform to destroy your dreams as opposed to its common perception as a breeding ground for talent,” he wrote. He went on to describe how contestants were made to stand in queues for hours without access to food, water or toilets. To step out of line to have some water could risk in them losing their spot. He said that when all was said and done, some contestants had been at the venue for over 24 hours.
“This sucks,” Mini Mathur, who has hosted the show between 2004-07 and once again in 2012, wrote on Twitter. “Thanks for forwarding me this thread. I wasn’t part of the 2012 season but I know most of what he has articulated is known to happen on reality tv. One of the reasons I bowed out. This incessant need to create false emotion. RIP Organic, pure TV.”
In his thread, Nishant had written that one’s position in line had no bearing on how soon they’d be taken in to audition. By 1 pm, there was no sign of the judges, but the aspirants had been assembled in a field where the previous year’s winner was ‘lip-syncing’.
Nishant then went on to describe how the crew forced on aspirant to fall in the previous year’s winner’s feet and declare “I wanna be Indian Idol!” The director demanded ‘dozens of retakes’ for this moment. When the aspirant couldn’t do any more takes, “assistants on the set abused him and threatened to have him off the auditions if he didn’t comply. He complied.” He’d been promised an early audition, which eventually did not happen.
Nishant described more ‘staged gimmicks’ where certain contestants were picked from the crowd based on their appearance, and were given scripted lines to speak into the camera. He gave the example of one blind person, and another who was ‘dragging his feet on a broken slipper’.
They were then taken to a room and made to yell ‘We love Indian Idol!’ till their voices became hoarse. “At this point one of the aspirants lost his shit and stood up, demanding to see where the auditions were happening, to see the judges,” Nishant wrote. “One of the crew members charged up to him and slapped him. In front of thousands of people. SLAPPED.A.CONTESTANT. Yes this happened.”
Nishant then went on to describe the humiliation the judges would subject contestants to. The auditions began ‘late in the night’ and Nishant saw the judges make fun of the man with the broken slipper. He recalled the aspirant coming out of the audition room in tears.
“My summarized observation of Indian Idol was that it decorates and recognizes maybe 10 or less, very worthy participants annually. But en route it quashes a million people’s hearts by disrespecting them, ridiculing and abusing them, denying them a conducive atmosphere to contest,” he finished.