By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Mumbai, (IANS) As the popular music contest "Hero Honda Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2005" races to a finish in January 2006, the surprises spill out with frenzied furtiveness.
After actor Salman Khan, the next celebrity judge was music aficionado Sanjay Leela Bhansali who was seen on Dec 2 and 3 on "Sa Re Ga Ma...".
Bhansali diligently sifted through dozens of the composing duo's songs to find just the right tunes for the finalists.
Speaking on the casting croon, the show's producer-director Gajendra Singh said: "We want music-minded showbiz icons to come and encourage the finalists. And what better choice than Sanjay Bhansali?
"It must be remembered that Shreya Ghoshal was picked up by Sanjayji from 'Sa Re Ga Ma'. When he agreed to be a judge we were thrilled."
Expressing his happiness at the event, composer Pyarelal said: "I'm really happy that a whole segment of this wonderful musical show was dedicated to me and my late partner. 'Yeh to bahut hi achchi baat hai' (It is very good). And that a music-minded filmmaker like Sanjay Bhansali hosted it made it even more joyous for me"
"We wanted the songs to be peppy and popular so that the contestants would be challenged and audiences enthused," revealed Gajendra.
Before the special segment was recorded, the 10 finalists Ujjaini, Paresh, Debajit, Nihira, Twinkle, Himani, Rajiv, Hemchandra, Sharid and Vinit drove down to the outskirts of Mumbai, where Bhansali was holidaying, to meet the director.
"It was essentially to establish a comfort level, to let Sanjayji hear the contestants and decide what would suit them," said Gajendra.
The finalists continue to make their presence felt. Judge Himesh Reshammiya who pushed and urged Vinit into getting maximum audience vote, has decided to reward his popular pupil with a song for Mithun Chakraborty's son Mimoh in the latter's debut film.
"Never before have our contestants seen such quick results and responses to their abilities and talent. It comes from having music composers as judges," said Gajendra.