Songs of transformation

‘Super Singer’: much more than just a reality show

Reality shows can change lives. Just ask Dhivagar Santhosh, now 27 years old, who went from being a water boy from Chennai’s Red Hills area to one of Kollywood’s most sought-after playback singers after he won season four of ‘Super Singer’, a Star Vijay show.

Diwagar Santhosh

In February 2014, he won the hugely popular reality show, having received the highest number of viewer votes. Just four months later, he had made his playback debut in the Tamil film industry with ‘Nenjukkula Nee’ from the film ‘Vadacurry’.

Dhivagar Santhosh receives blessings on stage

The reality show that changes people’s realities

India, with its vast population and many languages and cultures, is home to more than a billion dreams. As the nation with the largest youth population on Earth, the urge to break free of our circumstances and follow our hearts is almost overwhelming.

A. R. Rahman on the sets of Super Singer

Reality shows get a bad rap: critics accuse them of promoting vanity and mediocrity. But in the absence of true, meritorious ways to discover talent, it is shows like ‘Super Singer’ that help people realise their dreams. Individuals with hidden talents, who may only display them in front of friends and family, get a platform worthy of their abilities.

Revealing the success stories of ‘Super Singer’

Take the story of R. Azhagesan, who was 62 years old when he found himself in the top 33 of ‘Super Singer’ in its third season. The son of a music teacher from a small town in Tamil Nadu’s Tirvannamalai district, Azhagesan missed out on formal musical training as he lived in a hostel away from home.

R. Azhagesan competing on Super Singer

Over many years, he slowly developed a fondness for singing, but had to prioritise a job with a steady income in order to support his family after his father passed away prematurely. One day in 1992, on a train journey from Veppampattu to Chennai, he was coaxed into singing for his fellow passengers. This began a tradition that continued for nearly two decades, until his retirement in 2011, wherein he would regale sixty of his fellow passengers every day with renditions of old Tamil hits.

16-year-old Senthilnathan

Through his participation in ‘Super Singer’, Azhagesan’s dreams didn’t end with his train rides. The same can be said about 16-year-old Senthilnathan, a blind kid with Down syndrome from Trichy, who won everyone’s hearts with his astounding performance. Despite his physical and mental impediments, he can sing more than a hundred songs in five languages. His fame led to enthusiastic financial donations to the Loubra Service Centre for the Blind and the Disabled in Trichy, where he’s lived since he was 5 years old. These donations have helped educate more than 700 children belonging to the Scheduled Castes in nearby slum areas.

The show, which attracted contestants from around the world, also helped contestants take their vocal abilities to the next level. For instance, Sathyaprakash, who reached the finals in season 3, says, 'Super Singer’ was a huge opportunity. I learnt so much during the past year and three months. I learnt how to adapt from Carnatic to light music; how to use my vocal chords better.”

Entertaining people and finding exceptional talent

In its stupendously successful run, ‘Super Singer’ has not only entertained lakhs of viewers but also provided flight to the dreams of many. Great fun, wholesome entertainment, and the ability to inspire people – that’s quite incredible.

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