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Well Done, Hema by Prasad Nadhavajhala
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February 9, 2006

We saw the exit of Hemachandra (hot and handsome Hyderabadi as Shaan puts it) from Zee TV’s popular Saregamapa Challenge 2005 Final 3 this week. It must be a big upset to all those folks who are religiously following the show since Hema is one of those ‘original’ singers and a huge talent at the very young age of 17.

Living in San Francisco bay area and watching this Telugu boy performing Hindi songs so confidently on national stage is a moment of pride not only as a Telugu guy but also as an Indian. Who says that language is a barrier in arts?

Other two finalists scored big in their zones -- Vinit got around 18 lakhs from North zone and Debu got more than 34 lakhs from East zone. Only contender from South, Hemachandra, got around 17 lakhs in South (he got more than 10 lakhs even in the West) – I wonder how many of them came from his home state Andhra Pradesh? Tabu says in the show that people in the South do not watch much TV and so Hema got less votes there. But whenever I call my cousins in Hyderabad, they are always hooked to TV and sometimes ask me to call later since they are in the middle of ‘Chakravakam’ or some soap opera. Sorry, Tabu -- there must be huge TV viewership even in the South. But they may neither have the zeal to support new great talent nor regional frenzy to vote and get their lad through to the final. Apna Hyderabadis are just lazy!

When I googled Hema on the net, it says that Hema studied in All Saints High School and currently doing B.Sc. (Multimedia & Animation) first year. Next time when I go to Hyderabad, first thing I will do is to locate his address (someone here told me that he lives in Chikkadpally) and congratulate his parents for letting him do what he likes and what he is good at. How many 17-year middle-class boys do you come across in Andhra Pradesh without trying or doing engineering or medicine?

Hema is well known in the US households having Zee TV at home. NRI kids already have enough lectures from the parents for not knowing any language (including mother tongue) other than English. With boys like Hema around, who can sing Hindi or Telugu or Punjabi so perfectly on TV, it must be the bad times for Indian kids living overseas! My friends and I keep rewinding his performances in DVR and wonder at the ease of his rendering from ‘Main hoo na’ pop qawali to ‘Lagaan’ Mitwa song. His final performance of “Nahin samne” from ‘Taal’ is a classic. It is disheartening not to see much coverage of him in the regional media on the net except for a few like the recent interview in Unlike US where CNN’s Larry King interviews ABC’s Desperate Housewives and NBC news talking about Fox’s American Idol, local media in India has not started highlighting the success stories from other channels.

Telugu music world should embrace and encourage upcoming local talent like Hema on their own. Even otherwise, we have hope. As a consolation to his loss in the finals, Subhash Ghai announced that Hema would be giving playback in Mukta Arts. Aadesh Srivastava mentioned that he is already recording a song with Hema for Abhishek Bachchan in a future Hindi film. If Hemachandra makes it big in Bollywood, our music directors will make a beeline to Bombay to lend his voice for our big heroes. Let us only wish that Hema doesn’t forget his Telugu diction by that time!


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