The ‘Mega Star’ mayhem

Monday, 1 November 2010 01:33 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Chamitha Kuruppu

Everyone who debated the quality of reality shows conducted in Sri Lanka wouldn’t have expected Saturday night’s grand finale of Swarnavahini’s Mega Star to be so action packed, dramatic and humorous, giving the best-ever ‘reality’ experience to Sri Lankans.

Almost every household in the country spent the Saturday evening glued to the television with hot coffee to keep them refreshed through this controversial, nail-biting reality show. But they had no idea about what the show had to offer them at the end. In fact, even the producers, who continually claimed the show was unscripted, wouldn’t have expected such unpredicted occurrences.

The show, which started almost year ago on a somewhat slow pace, was soon ranked among the most-watched television programmes in the country. It was no secret that UNP Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekera’s melodious voice contributed immensely to bring the show into the limelight. But it was Deputy Minister Mervyn Silva’s riotous comments as a judge that made the show even more popular.

Mega Star became controversial with several talented artistes leaving the show, casting aspersions on the genuineness of the programme. Almost all the contestants who were eliminated week after week criticised Mega Star, claiming the show was politicised and full of favouritism.

Towards the last episodes, the rumour was that the Government’s latest sweetheart Upeksha Swarnamali, popularly known as Paba for her famous role in a popular tele-drama series, was going to be crowned as the Mega Star no matter how dubious her singing skills were. Young actor Suresh Gamage, who was among the four finalists, openly criticised the judges and their decisions as well as the authenticity of the programme.

Meanwhile, the other finalist, businessman and actor Ajith Weerasinghe (who appeared more on television commercials and game shows than tele-dramas) had bluntly admitted that he was campaigning and spending money to secure more votes.

Come Saturday 30 October everyone expected the fight to be between Upeksha and Dayasiri despite Suresh being a good singer and Ajith overly confident about the SMS votes.

Unlike the many reality shows held during the past, Mega Star had no technical hiccups and was truly a mega event. Given the controversies over SMS voting in previous reality shows, Swarnavahini at the start of grand finale made it clear that only one vote would be accounted from a single phone number/SIM card.

The grand finale kicked off in hi-tech and flashy style with the four finalists descending to the venue, the Sugathadasa Stadium, in a chopper amidst the cheering of their supporters. Later the contestants arrived one after another in luxurious automobiles and then took the red carpet.

Although the absence of Rajive Sebastian, another controversial judge, was notable during the grand finale (it was announced he was overseas), the show went on amidst heavy arguments between host Kamal Addaraarachchi and the judges. Deputy Minister Mervyn Silva as usual had to have a few ‘foot in mouth’ situations, in one instance making a rude remark and embarrassing contestant Upeksha Swarnamali.

No matter how versatile Addaraarachchi may be as an actor and a presenter, on Saturday he exceeded his limits, angering the audience. His baseless arguments and constant attempts to overpower the judges looked as if he was trying to dominate the show.

Each contest had three rounds and another song to perform. However, to everyone’ s surprise Silva asked Addaraarachchi how many rounds they were actually having and both Rosy Senanayake and Addaraarachchi tried to explain the intricacies of the programme to Silva.

The real show began when it was the time to announce the winner. Amidst sighs and exclamations and lots of disappointment, Upeksha was announced fourth and Suresh was third. Rosy Senanayake in fact openly commented that it was Suresh and Dayasiri who should have been vying for the crown.

Addaraarachchi was seen going through the bombshell result sheet over and over again, opening, reading and then folding it again. However, the constant smile on Dayasiri’s face that he had for almost a year disappeared when Addaraarachchi finally announced Ajith as the winner of Mega Star.

The judges looked shocked and so did the viewers. Everyone hoped that Addaraarachchi was playing one of his tricks again. But then he repeated that Ajith was the Mega Star.

EAP Chairperson Soma Edirisinghe and Budhdhika Kulasekera were on stage handing away the prizes. Soon after Dayasiri was awarded the trophy and the replica key for his motor car, empty bottles and various other objects were flying over the stage. It was the time to hand over the trophy and other awards to winner Ajith, but the angry audience continued to throw things towards the stage, which resulted in organisers condemning the manner in which they fans behaved.

The action-packed real life drama then looked more of an entertaining comedy when Deputy Minister Mervyn Silva took to the stage surrounded by his bodyguards. The staff at the main control room too must have been taken aback by the commotion; they continued airing the drama that was happening live at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium.

Soma Edirisinghe was escorted off the stage by her many bodyguards and coincidently the music played in the background was a sequel from a James Bond movie.

What was even more hilarious was how the pretty, powder-faced models in their tiny black dresses dropping the gigantic trophy in the middle of the stage and running for their lives towards the emergency exits.

By then the main control room had realised it was time to take a break. They cut the live transmission for a few minutes and making things worse, aired another sequel showing a few men who looked like bodyguards fighting with each other. Then they blacked out the live transmission again. The time was around 1 a.m. After almost 20 minutes, they had a ticker running saying Mega Star had ended. What an end to a mega reality show!