By Yashika Ramautar and Anusha Govender
YR: As a branch of the Idols franchise, how do you think Indian Idol has set you up for an international market?
Sreeram: It has made alot of difference, especially since I'm from Hyderabad, and the south is not that well known for commercial shows in the north or outside India. So, it has given me the scope of having an average of 8 to 10 shows, at least, a month which is not an usual scenario if I was not on Indian Idol. People don't know you as much so I would not have been exposed to such a huge market, had it not been for Indian Idols.
Sourabhee: Every contestant reached a stage where they can expose their talent to every corner of the world, not just India. So it really gave us a good chance.
YR: In terms of a judging panel, which judge's critique do you feel was most useful?
Sreeram: I can't name one judge in particular because everyone played their part, from the first round auditions right till the moment I lifted the trophy. Anu'ji did it the hard way and just gives it to you on your face, whereas
Sunidhi'ji who herself is a fabulous singer, gave us some tips and motivated me while Salim'ji is just such a sweetheart. He is a soft person and never wanted to say something to hurt the contestants, so he criticized in a positive way.
Sourabhee: For me, that would definitely be Anu Malik as he was the most strict judge. Whatever he speaks is all true, because when he doesn't like a contestant's performance he directly says so, and when he likes a performance, he overwhelms us with his praises. That really helped me and my performance as well.
YR: Do you feel that your backgrounds in Tripura (Sourabhee) and Hyderabad (Sreeram) have played an impact on your musical careers?
Sreeram: With me coming from Hyderabad in the south, people tend to say that we can't speak great Hindi as we have a typical accent. In my case that was so different, because I am a very good speaker of Hindi, as from the time I was a child, I listened to a lot of Hindi songs and I liked the Hindi language. So that helped me a lot when I came into Idols, and surprised so many people in India that this guy is from the south yet speaks such good Hindi and sings well, too.
Sourabhee: We hardly get this opportunity. Firstly, in Mumbai or Bollywood, people tend to think that North Eastern people don't speak proper Hindi, so they won't be able to sing in Hindi. That was really tough for me in that way. Indian Idols helped me in the sense that from initially when I started, I was able to see my mistakes and polish them to get better and better.
YR: Do you have any embarrassing performance stories that you'd like to share with your fans?
Sreeram: Yes, I was very bad at remembering my lyrics. That was a tough part for me so I had to especially take efforts not to forget my lyrics while I was performing as it was a "one take" show and there were no re-takes. It was a true show, so I am glad I worked hard at it and went all the way.
Sourabhee: Same story with me. Initially, I couldn't perform without my diary, and that really looked bad when you are on stage and continuously looking at your diary instead of interacting with the audience. So I had to memorise my lyrics so many times. It was in the third round of Indian Idols for the song "Hawa Hawaai" where I forgot my words, but fortunately the judges didn't pick up on it, so I was okay.
YR: What is your fondest childhood memory?
Sreeram: When I had long hair and my mum plaited it to make me look like a girl.
Sourabhee: When I went for my first audition, on the way I was so nervous so my mum told me that if I did well, she would buy me a new dress and if I didn't, she would push me over this bridge that we were travelling on. So luckily, I got my new dress.
Venue to perform at:
Sreeram: London and Singapore
American/Indian Idol judge:
Sreeram: Jennifer Lopez
Sourabhee: Khailash Kher
Indian Idol performance:
Sreeram: Koja meri Koja
Sourabhee: I love my India
Sreeram: I have so many, Lata Mangeshakar and Kishore Kumar earlier and now AR Rahman
Sourabhee: AR Rahman
Sreeram: Mumbai Indians and Deccan Chargers
Sourabhee: Kolkata Knight Riders
Sreeram: Katrina Kaif and Sonali Bendre
Sourabhee: Aamir Khan and Aishwarya Rai