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Viva forever. . .
When Anushka Manchanda belts out 'Behke Behke' or 'By The Way' from Aisha, you stop and listen to the funky voice. Ditto Neha Bhasin, whose vocals make you believe Kuch Khaas Hai (she sang the song for Fashion). Pratichee Mohapatra always looked like the coolest one, with her cropped hair and long limbs. By the time she came out with her own album, the lass had turned into a lady and made heads turn. Mahua Kamat never cared that she was slightly overweight. She sang with gusto and was the darling of the crowds. Mahua is married and was recently heard singing Rang Deeni from the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Dev. Seema Ramchandani sang like a nightingale, but chose to focus her energies on marriage and the Art of Living foundation instead, for which she has sung inspirational bhajans. But all these things happened much after these five girls took the stage together for the first time. And what brought these five glorious voices together was India's first mass talent hunt.
The year was 2002 and Channel V set out to give India its first-ever girl band. It was a talent hunt like never before, with girls from across the country shimmying, shaking, and also singing, to be part of the top five. They called themselves Viva! and were launched with a bang, eating up column centimetres of newsprint and valuable minutes of TV time. It was also the first ever reality show on Indian television. "The lives of the five chosen girls were on television and their every movement was monitored for the cameras, "says Deepak Dhar, now the MD of Endemol India - the company that adapts the most number of reality shows for Indian television - who worked on Popstars, adding that the show had obviously high TRPs.
With new-found stardom and success came cat fights, ego clashes, and all the other glorious tantrums that only popstars are allowed to get away with. The desi 'Spice Girls' had their moment in the sun and were loving it. Though there was never an official statement announcing the group's split, they have not released an album for five years and all the girls are busy with solo careers. Thereafter, wannabe pop groups have kept coming to the fore now and then - Band of Boys was supposed to be Viva's male version- but haven't really worked. Did being part of Viva! help them? For sure. Will the girls ever get back together? Well, as they say, never say never.
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