Indian-American Idol

In the we-watch-so-you-don’t have-to category, I thought it would be nice to provide an update or two on our non-Bollywood desi brethren continuing to make it in the world of reality television. We blogged previously about the Singing Malakars, and unlike Abhi, I have been known to watch American Idol and other reality fare, especially when they feature South Asians. (For the record, I think it is way better than toilet water.) In this weeks installment of American Idol, we saw saw the splitting of the Malakar siblings, as Simon, Paula, and Randy decided to send Shyamali home, but advance Sanjaya all the way through to the final 24 (link). I thought Sanjaya’s rendition of “Some Kind Of Wonderful,” was pretty good, and it was great to see a desi make it through to the actual competition. Even if he doesn’t win, as long as Sanjaya doesn’t give a performance like like this one from the U.K.’s Pop Idol (definitely click on the link–it is hilarious), he will be a winner in my book. You can follow Sanjaya’s progress, here and on American Idol which airs Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s on Fox.

It used to be that one desi-American on television would be more than enough to merit a post, but why stop at one when you don’t have to. The other desi-in-reality-tv is on the Los Angeles version of The Apprentice. Yes, I watch that one too, and in this weeks installment, Surya Yalamanchili barely made it out of the boardroom alive. In fact, as trump noted, it was only “by the skin of his ass” that Surya survived. For those of you that haven’t been watching, Surya isn’t as pompous as Raj or as manipulative as Tejal, but the boy can chatter. Surya is a brand manager and on this task takes the role of branding the freshly harvested honey (link). Instead of getting to the job at hand, the episode shows Surya doing lots and lots of talking. He is a regular chatty Karthik. We see Surya talking, talking, and more talking, but not really doing anything. Even after the boardroom, where his former teammate successfully helps in deflecting Surya from responsibility for his team’s loss, Surya continues to talk. Trump fires Aaron, the project manager, and as everyone is leaving the room, Surya is still trying to talk to the Donald. And then, while Aaron is getting into the town car for his ride-of-shame, Surya continues to talk of course. He shuts up for a second while the car is driving away, but then he starts back up again during the walk to the backyard. The music fades out, the show’s over, the crew is going to bed, and still Surya’s talking. You can watch the end of the boardroom, and witness Surya’s loquaciousness here. The Apprentice airs Sunday’s on NBC at 9.

35 thoughts on “Indian-American Idol

  1. I was totally thrilled to see Sanjaya make it through. Also, I was glad to see that they didn’t try to edit in a sibling rivarly scene but instead showed that he was upset that Shyamali didn’t make it through as well.

  2. can we start voting for sanjaya? if so, i’ll spend hundred bucks on that kid. can you imagine him winning and getting a record deal? would be insane!

    i also caught the last part of “the apprentice.” that kid’s from the town i work at. he does talk ridiculously, but good at what he does. i’d like see him win, too.


    a lot of indians in jersey have emulated their appearance from the italians in the region. you remember the brothers from the show on the gotti family? my state’s filled with italians and indians with spikey hair, striped shirt, faded jeans, boots. (i’m stereotyping yeah, you know what i mean, the younger generation).

  3. Wow, why do they get so melodramatic? It’s not like his sister’s dying or something. Nonetheless, more power to him.

  4. With Seinfeld disclaimer putting up front – “Not that there is anything wrong with that”

    Never mind with the highlights, but anyone thinks that the boy bats for the same team? 🙂

  5. Looks like another “Ryan Seacrest” in the making. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

  6. from:

    Seventeen-year-old Sanjaya Malakar is doubtless the most ethnically exotic, at least by Middle American standards. In fact, a decent case could be made that by reaching the Idol knockout stage, Malakar instantly and automatically becomes the most well-known South Asian in the United States. (Who else is there? Gandhi? Salman Rushdie? The girl from Bend It Like Beckham?)

  7. ‘Malakar instantly and automatically becomes the most well-known South Asian in the United States

    I thought that went to Dr. Sanjay gupta from CNN…who seems to be consultated on every sngle medical condition that every is mentioned on tv!

  8. Just saw the first audience round (they broadcast it the next night in India). He was in tune, but the rendition was just boring. But pretty much all of them were boring, so maybe he still has a chance…

  9. Solely based on last night’s performace and the comments from the judges, Sanjaya will most likely be in the bottom 3 in voting. Whether he will get eliminated or not depends on how much the others sucked and how many Macaca votes he was able to garner.

  10. Have to agree with Santosh…I normally don’t watch American Idol..but tuned in to watch the desi represent….and he did a bad job…but most of them did last night. I think he’ll be voted off tonite…maybe he can try out for Indian Idol?? 😛

  11. Santosh…thanks for the spoiler! I’ll just check the results when its announced on the East Coast…Can’t believe with that performance he would get by…the girls were 100x better than the boys, who didn’t sound like they belonged, especially Sanjaya…if he makes it, maybe he can prove why he deserves to be there.

  12. Wow, I must say I am surprised that Sanjaya, after his mediocre performance on Monday, did not get cut today. I hope he can redeem his poor showing next week.

    Malakar instantly and automatically becomes the most well-known South Asian in the United States

    I think the slate article overstates Malakar’s position as the most well-known South Asian in the US, at least a little. Surprisingly, I can name several others who could potentially be amongst the most well-known South Asians in the states. I say surprisingly because compiling the list five years ago would have taken a lot longer.

    Already listed are Apu and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, but here are some other possibilities: mutiny favorites, Kal Penn and M.I.A., then politicians: (and political wanna bees) Bobby Jindal and Raj Bhakta, actors/actresses: Aishwarya Rai, Shilpa Shetty, Padma Lakshmi, Naveen Andrews, the dude from hereoes, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Aasif Mandvi (who I must say has put in his time), Ajay Naidu, Mira Nair etc…, Journalists/Writers Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Tunku Varadarajan, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, and writer wannabee Kaavya viswanathan. You know what, I have to stop, there are many famous South Asians in the U.S., and I think I proved my point.

    Now onto the real question, who is going to be the first desi to host Saturday Night Live?

  13. It’s great to see a desi out there, trying and representing. BUT GEEZ, This guy? All my friends (desi, fob, and non desi) saw him the first night and screamed “HE’S GAY”. Guess what most of mainstream America thinks, yep that he’s gay. And he’s half-white so is he really a desi?I wish we had better, real, perceptions of us out there.

  14. Please give me a break. This guy is pathetic, he was just terrible this week and even last. I cant believe he made it this week, he should have been voted out. His performance was like a school talent show as Rhandy and Simon mentions.
    Secondly, i dont get it, how can you encourage someone who is not the best? I wish you guys stand corrected. This guy is not a ‘desi’. He is an American for gods sake, God knows how i am going to sit through his performance next week….hhhh

  15. i don’t understand why you would vote for someone who sucks just because they are part-desi, that is beyond stupid. This is a contest about who is the best singer, even though it seems now it’s like a contest between how many rednecks will vote for sundance or the trailer trash girl with the red stripe…why does every time there is a competition like this, people turn it into siding for the ones who they relate to because of their lifestyle or race or whatever, regardless of that persons talent, if you want to prove a point, don’t do it on american idol…because these people are real and this competition is serious to them. hello!!! it is a talent contest, not how many desis can vote for a desi contest!!!! American Idol is not the place to keep someone draggin along, just so they can get coverage in the media, i mean have some respect for the poor guy, keep voting for him and he will continue to humiliate himself, week after week, simon is going to scar him for life with his awful comments, for his own emotional stability he should be taken out of the contest!!! Sanjaya, in comparison to the rest of the group, cannot sing, if you don’t realize that, there is something wrong with your brain, so Stop voting for him and give the talented people a chance, for the love of god!!!

  16. I’m not saying go out and vote for him but I won’t complain if he doesn’t get sent home for a bit yet. True, he has ZERO talent. True, he would take up a spot from someone who does. But, for some reason, watching that train wreck with the freaky hair, the mile wide mouth, the odd gestures, and the forehead that goes on forever is extremely entertaining. And can someone please explain what the heck ‘desi’ is? I’ve now realized that you’re not talking about Ricky Ricardo but what the heck?

  17. Its so unfortunate that Desi’s are making a joke of this program. C mon guys! You don’t need to show your ethnic favoritism in helping a guy win “American Idol”. Be unbiased and rank him. While voting for him without thinking for a moment will help in getting a moment of glory on American Idol or in main stream media, it also brings the whole Indian thought process into disrepute.