Oct 4, 2012

Naga Orpheus Hunt 2012: 18 singers waiting for the Pink music slip

The ‘recording round’ of ongoing music talent hunt Naga Orpheus Hunt 2012 has thrown up many interesting surprises – the contestants are much younger and hungrier; host Arenla Lemtur is pregnant (or she forgot to go on a diet this year); member of the Dorians Club are getting rounder and rounder; former winner of the show Moanungsang Jamir has become the talent show’s cameraman and judge Tali Angh still hasn’t discovered the glorious practice of shaving. Facial areas, that is. 

And so there they were: 13 hopefuls vying to be called the next Naga Orpheus winner trying to impress the eagle ears of Media entertainment craftswoman Ate Kevichusa, local singing hero Nise Meruno and musician/school proprietor Tali Angh. The ‘recording round’ was held in the mini-theater of recreation center Highway 39 on Wednesday, October 3 in Dimapur. From the next round on, many of the contestants would be dropped like hot bricks from the Dorians Club-organized event. Only 6 would qualify for the semis. The rest shall come under the Nagaland Retirement Act. 

And so the afternoon started. The contestants were there looking their best for the video camera. The show would be landing on the small screens in Nagaland in a week or two. So they have had to look good.

Then there were the judges: Kevichusa was all tiny, round, pink and lovely; Meruno was all yellow hair but minus his trademark crotch-killing tight pants while the quiet-talking Angh looked on gloriously in his usual trusty beard. Highway 39’s mini-theater was also packed with members of the main organizers, the Notun Basti-based Dorians Club. Then there was the tamul-devouring Media people and anxious well-wishers who accompanied the contestants.

Further, there was this motley crew of sweating, bag-eyed, camera-toting and finger-signaling film crew led by rocker-turned-Naga-Idol-winner-turned-NGO-Activist-turned-Restaurateur-turned-Video-Technician-turned-something-else Moanungsang. In the midst of the hustle bustle, the nerve-wracked young contestants could be seen fighting a losing battle against panic attacks. The sinister video cameras in front of them only aggravated their condition.    

And so the show began. Judging by the look on the audience’s faces and the comments passed by the judges, the young singers’ performances fell into roughly 3 distinct groups: the Good, the Bad and the WTF. Of course, Miss Kevichusa and Mr. Meruno were diplomatically acidic at regular intervals. They usually killed the offending singers lovingly. On the other hand, Mr. Angh was generally mild, sweet and caring. He normally began his critique by saying mild, caring and sweet things before strangling the offending singer.

Among the contestants Wapang Longkumer of Mokokchung looked like he had all the makings of a real star. The smoky-voiced Longkumer took The Beatles’ 1970 classic ‘Let It Be’ by the neck, kissed it with his heart and flung it to the judges who had no choice but be bowled over. 

In fact, even female Simon Cowell Kevichusa and Meruno began sniffling noisily into their handkerchiefs at the heart-wrenching performance from the young Longkumer. Wapang’s performance was perhaps one of the evening’s highlights after another favorite Thunglamo failed to impress the judges in a prior performance. Another contestant, Houvino took on a big, big song – Aretha Franklin’s ‘Son of a Preacher Man’. She was a tad nervous, pitchy at times and shy but performed a passionate rendition of the classic to win the confidence of the judges. But not entirely of course – Miss Cowell was not convinced although Meruno’s eyes appeared suspiciously shiny. Angh was diplomatic but OKAY-ed pretty Hovino’s attempt.   

There was also a moment during the show that proved more interesting than music: One of the contestants, Temsuyapang, was abruptly summoned off the stage after the videographers discovered that the poor man’s forehead was shining gloriously either from oil or nervous sweat. Sensing the danger the shining forehead could pose to television imaging, the official Naga Orpheus make-up artist was swiftly summoned to exterminate the offending shine. The makeup artist quickly beautified the shiny man with some strange, colored powder of some sort. When he returned to the stage, Temsuwapang looked like he was ready to say “Take Care” as a tribute to Garnier men’s fairness cream. All’s fair in fair and love, you see. Sadly, the Fair & Lovely encouragement did not help his performance that much when he took on The Script’s ‘Break Even’ (from Breakeven, 2008).

Another surprise of the event was Yenwang Konyak who casually strutted on the stage for Blake Shelton’s Grammy-nominated ‘Honeybee’ (from Red River Blue, 2011). Armed with good diction, sober nonchalance and quiet confidence, Konyak seduced the judges. Sadly, the response would not be so warm for many of the evening’s singers who left the stage dreading whether they would at all survive the main rounds. But then, that’s a decision only the voting cards would make later. 

The Morung Express, October 3, 2012

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