Kathmandu, Dec 6 (IANS) In 2007, when Darjeeling boy Prashant Tamang won the popular contest Indian Idol 3, India's northern neighbour Nepal played a decisive role in the victory with Nepalis raising money to send SMS votes for the Nepali-origin contestant.
This year, with another Nepali-origin contestant Kapil Thapa being in the fray, Nepal could once again prove to be the clinching factor with the Himalayan republic, for the first time in the history of the four-year contest, beginning to vote directly.
From Friday night, people from Nepal, who have been watching the show on Sony, began to vote directly, courtesy a deal struck between a media house and a private mobile telephone service provider.
'Experience a plethora of emotions, coupled with contestants' tears and joys, heartbreak and jubilation,' said the International Media Network Private Ltd, that has become the 'official voting partner for Nepal'.
'The people of Nepal had a big hand in Prashant's win,' the announcement said.
'Neighbours or friends or cousins who were India-bound were plied with cash to vote for Prashant. Those living on the Nepal-India border crossed over to vote for their favourite contestant.'
With the fourth edition of the show having whittled down to 14 finalists, the media company says it has along with TV Max Pvt Ld, the distributors of Sony in Nepal, has jointly acquired 'exclusive voting rights from Nepal'.
'This year Nepali fans of Indian Idol need not go to all this trouble to vote for the next Indian Idol,' the announcement said. 'So from Dec 5 let your votes do the talking for you and you decide who gets to be the next Indian Idol.'
The company also says that multiple SMSes can be sent during the voting period, which lasts for 12 hours every week from Friday night to Saturday till the grand finale.
The announcement adds that the 14 contestants now in the fray include Kapil Thapa, an Indian of Nepali origin who is from Dehra Dun.
The announcement has given rise to mixed reactions.
'We ought to promote the talent at home,' says 16-year high school student Urvashi Joshi, who aspires to take part in the Nepali version of the contest. 'We have our Nepali Tara but not 10 percent of the people who watch Indian Idol watch the Nepali show.'
'Art has no boundary,' says Nepali music director Alok Nembang who this year added yet another feather in his cap by directing a musical, Sano Sansar, that went on to become a smash hit.
'The contest is meant to provide a platform to artistes and anyone can vote from anywhere. Hindi songs and films are a part of my life and I have made two music videos with Prashant Tamang.'
Journalist Guna Raj Luitel, the former news editor of Nepal's biggest daily Kantipur and current associate editor of the upcoming Republica daily, says in this age of globalisation, everything is interconnected.
'Nepal and India share not just the same border but sentiments too,' he says. 'Besides, it is up to the organisers to decide who can vote and who can't.'
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