Lip Sing Battle: Desi version of America's celebrity singing face-off show has nothing new to offer
It’s one thing to watch Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johson perform Bee Gees’ 'Stayin' Alive' and outdo an enthusaistic Jimmy Fallon struggling with Madonna’s 'Like a Prayer', while fans cheer them on the popular show Lip Sync Battle. It's completely another thing to expect our Bollywood stars to recreate the same energy, excitement and level of performances.
Especially when you have an irritant like Ali Asgar in his tiresome and done-to-death female avatar, trying to pull off a Kapil Sharma type act with the celebrity guests.
What started on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon as a fun segment, went on to become the rage in American entertainment, with celebs going to war with each other through songs, dance and costumes. This now has an Indian edition on Star Plus with Farah Khan as host.
The first episode started with Asgar’s dismal act in a saree as he played Raakhi's character from Karan Arjun. At one point, Khan tells Asgar and guest Arjun Kapoor, “Tum log mere show ki maa behen kar doge.” The idea is to pun on Asgar’s “maa” act and be funny. Well, if you go “haha” when Asgar walks around in a white saree and keeps repeating to Arjun, “Tu mere pyaar ki nishani hai”, then you deserve the idiot box and Navjot Singh Sidhu’s place as a judge on comedy shows.
If you have expectations as low as this, what will work for you is Farhan Akhtar's presence in the first episode and Karan Johar's in the second one. Incidentally, they also end up winning their rounds. Clearly, the show’s concept depends upon two things — the choice of songs and each celebrity’s fun quotient.
Now, it is easy to imagine a Govinda or a Ranveer Singh going all out with their mad vibe and crazy moves while they sing a whacky number like 'Oonchi Hai Building'. It would be even more fun to see an unlikely, somber Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi groove to one of Abhishek's song like 'Rock N Roll Soniye', perhaps dressed in their costumes from Khuda Gawah.
The USP is the competition or the “battle” between the stars, the makers of the show might claim. But unless twists and situations can be introduced, there is no novelty to Lip Sing Battle. After all, what’s new about watching these film stars lip sync and dance, when you could watch them do just that both in movies and umpteen award shows?
But then, the contestants need to be equally fun in their face-offs, which the likes of Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra are not, when pitted against Farhan or Karan respectively. Parineeti, who is totally delightful in 'Pareshaan' from Ishaqzaade, is total misfit in the show, dressed in a short blue skirt which looks more like a school uniform. Her oomph-less seduction of Karan Johar whilst singing 'Mainu Yaar Mile Toh Marjaawan' worked more because of his reactions than her awkward moves. When she sang the Govinda song 'A Aa Ee Oo Oo O' from Raja Babu singing, the goofy vibe is totally lost because of her dead serious expressions. Maybe it's tough to pull off a cheap-yet-endearing roadside Romeo and dance like Govinda did. Surely, Chi Chi deserves more respect.
Considering all this, it is hardly surprising that Karan Johar steals all the limelight, shimmering like a chandelier (his own words) in a black, jazzy sherwaani. The number he sang, with quite a few shakes and twists, was just apt — 'Rock N Roll Soniye'. Preity Zinta’s appearance on the show brought in some nostalgia as she recreated her original appearance in the song from Karan's own Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna.
For Farhan Akhtar, too, it’s a cake walk over Arjun in the first episode as he lip syncs to the difficult 'Breathless' by Shankar Mahadevan first. Despite choosing RD Burman's 'Duniya Mein Logon Ko', Arjun's act remained mostly sad and was an insult to the rhythm. Meanwhile, Farhan was able to somewhat redeem himself when he sang the famous Rishi Kapoor song 'Om Shanti Om' in his silver costume as he performed the iconic routine.
Individual performances aside, a couple of two to three minute-long songs and dance sequences by your favourite stars is simply not enough to sustain attention over 45 minutes of air time. It is easy and tempting to flip channels as soon as the ridiculous Asgar Ali or a bad contestant walks onto stage. Plus, when you compare this amateurish contest to memorable performances like Anne Hathaway's rendition of Miley Cyrus’s 'Wrecking Ball' as she wore a white tank top and high-waisted panties and jumped onto a huge ball hanging on stage, our desi version is clearly a washout.
Lip Sing Battle needs to get rid of its high school level performance quality and go beyond copying just the format and the stage sets. If the show cannot give us some delightfully outrageous moves like Hathaway’s, then at least show us a good, real ‘Bad Blood’ battle between the likes of Kangana and Hrithik, or rivals like Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan, or Deepika and Sonam. Then you'll see those TRPS soar.