CII’s 2ND Audition – Escalating Popularity in US and Abroad

Chicago IL: Launched by the Chicago-based company Indian Event Management Inc. (IEM), the Chicago Indian Icon CII held its second of the three auditions at the Ashyana Banquets in Downers Grove on June 23, 2013. Increasing popularity is evident in the increase in participants in this second CII audition. People participated from different suburbs of Chicago, southern Illinois and neighboring states of Wisconsin and Indiana. The program was watched by thousands on the internet in real-time, in the United States and other regions of the world including India and Africa.

Chicago Indian Icon (CII) is a unique, one of a kind, historic, karaoke competition, where young and not-so-young, male and female, come to perform, compete, and display their unique talents in singing Bollywood songs with the hope of transforming their dreams into reality, and win the title Chicago of Indian Icon!

Brij Sharma, the president of IEM was enthusiastic about the success of the first audition. “The magnanimous set up, the quality of participants, the feedback from judges, the interaction from master of ceremonies, attentive audience, and food was all raved about. But, this is just a shadow of what is coming in the future” he said.

Sunil Shah from New York Life and founder of FIA was the chief guest at the opening ceremony. He spoke about the value of musical competition and the unique setup of CII. Music is an integral part of life, and occupies often the center stage in weddings, times of worship in temples, and several other events in one’s life.
The second audition once again brought even more caliber and talent as witnessed by the audience. Prasanjit Uptasarma, Praveen Jaligama, Pranjali Desai, Gautam Khanna, Pratik Munshi and Utpal Munshi were some of the favorites and received standing ovation. Another memorable moment was a kindergarten boy who sang his entire song without a glitch, and without his mom holding his hands. It was so cute to see such young kids participating in the CII, a truly historic moment!

Pratibha Jairath, the Vice President of IEM inspired the contestants and said “Here we are, once again in the pursuit of excellence, once again in the pursuit of identifying the best talent in karaoke singing and crowning the talented winner as the “Chicago Indian Icon”. She spoke about the success of Audition 1 and said “We would not have been able to achieve this success if it wasn’t for our President Brij Sharma’s support”.

A unique focus is on Group Performance. Pratibha suggested the participants to present creative Group items along with their friends so as to contribute to the judging criteria of ‘performance’ and ‘wow factor’. “It gives incomparable opportunity to get into semi-finals where audience voting counts for 50 percent of the scoring units. Bring all your friends to vote for you” she said. In fact, at the second audition, when a group sang “Shola jo Bhadke” in Hawaiian outfits with straw hats and displayed expression and a few dance steps while they were singing, they not only received an enthusiastic applause from audience, but Nehali Dhutia, her father-in-law Bharat Dhutia and Subhash Singal team became a role model example for Group item presentation.

The beautifully lit CII trophy was displayed on the stage for everyone to see and continued true effort from the participants gets the person one step closer to winning the trophy, and being crowned the title of CII for the entire world to see. Continuing on a similar vein as the real deal, Bollywood performances, the atmosphere within the Ashyana CII auditorium was charged up with such intense talent, the excitement of performance, and friendly competition, all of these elements filled the air, and everyone present could feel this as they were comfortably seated and waiting for the event to begin. The professionally setup stage with the backdrop of images of the legendary Hindi musical icons, high tech cameras to capture and broadcast the events as they would take place, highly trained sound technicians, a hall that was acoustically optimal, all of these elements contributed to the making of an ideal place for such an event to take place here in Chicago, and the performers and the audience loved it! As we enter the summer time, the warmth of musical awakening cuts through the stillness of a cold and stagnant era and we pass into a new era of musical evolution with the birth of the CII.

“CII selection process is very simple, fair & transparent” said Sharan Walia, the director of management and planning. He spoke about the selection process, the audience poll, and online voting, which will add to the charm of semi finals & grand finale. “Audience will really enjoy being part of this process’, he added. His long hours of planning did pay off and the result was obvious.

The fire of musical-passion is rapidly engulfing many far and wide and the rumor has it, that some people are planning to fly from Canada to take part in the third audition of CII. The actress Chinmayee Bhatt and TV personality Saurine Thakkar were the two beautifully dressed Emcees. Thanks to the stunning outfits from Saahil. They were magnanimous in their interactions with the participants and made them feel comfortable and challenged them with questions and the participants interacted well with the emcees,’ much to the satisfaction and approval of the audience.

Raju Bankapur, the director of entertainment and planning, walked the audience and participants through the format of the competition. “I am very pleased to announce our semi-finalist judges including two celebrities, namely Sniti Misra the singing sensation of Saregamapa in 2010, and the legendary singer Sharda jee who is well known for her song ”Titli Udi”, he said. Being a singer himself, popularly known as Kishore Kumar of Chicago, Raju asked participants to take the platform and learn from this opportunity, network and grow. He worked tirelessly as an execution director, coordinating music, anxious participants, enthusiastic MC’s and overseeing volunteers; ensuring that the program completed without a dull moment on stage and no interruptions”

People from various karaoke groups participated to take advantage of this platform presented by CII competition. They appreciated the constructive feed back from the accomplished Judges Hitesh Master, Mani Majumdar, Richard Christian and Vaishali Dhande. “It has been fun to connect with participants and see the planning and excitement on their part” said Anoop Walia, the director of public relations and business operations. His efforts of managing the check-in process were evident by the smooth and organized entry of several participants even before the doors opened.

When viewing the group structure, there are nine different categories, namely, under 12 solo, solo male, solo female, duet, and the exciting category of group (3 or more) in two separate divisions namely, 13 to 30 and 30+ year age groups, thus comprising a menu list for the music lovers to choose from. Some take part in multiple categories expressing and displaying their musical singing talents in different dimensions.

The sole Radio Media partner Chann Pardesi team had set up booths to conduct pre- and post-performance video interviews of each participant. RJ Sachin and his team made the participants speak up about themselves and their interest in karaoke Bollywood music by asking interesting questions. The interviews along with the participants’ performances are available for purchase in a DVD format that they can cherish for years to come and may be even share with their grandchildren and other friends and family members.

Clearly, Chicago Indian Icon is taking shape rapidly and becoming bigger, at a rate that was not imagined by anyone involved in making this happen. Brij Shrama announced the plans to replicate CII in New York, Atlanta, Los Angles, and San Francisco. Stay tuned for more to come……