Thursday, February 04, 2010

Ravi B is chutney king

Winners of the 2010 Chutney Soca Monarch at Skinner Park, San Fernando on Saturday night. From left: Moses Charles, Rikki Jai and Ravi Bissambhar. Photo: Rishi Ragoonath

It was truly a presentation befitting a king as Ravi Bissambhar pulled out all the stops in his bid to be crowned the 2010 NLCB Chutney Soca Monarch. From lying down on a couch pushed onstage by beautiful women, to decorating his torso with body paint, to the appearance of Bajan Soca diva Alison Hinds as part of his entourage, Bissambhar (more popularly known as Ravi B) left no stone unturned as he sang his way to the championship. With the title being decided by text voting, popularity was undoubtedly a huge determining factor and Ravi B, with his song, A Drinker, went into the competition being one of the favourites to win. By the end of his performance, which included cocktail waitresses, Shiv Shakti dancers and an impressive pyrotechnics display, the Karma frontline singer exited the stage as the unofficial winner.
The final results did not change what was already on the minds and in the mouths of the thousands of patrons as Ravi B was officially announced as the monarch, amassing 9,527 votes, almost double that of second place finisher Rikki Jai, who only managed 4,872. Newcomer to the Chutney Soca scene Moses Charles, who sang the immensely popular Indrani, finished third with 2060 votes, while Kris Persad’s performance of Nadia was good enough to get him 1988 votes and fourth place. For their efforts, the top four winners were awarded $200,000, $100,000, $60,000 and $40,000 respectively, while the remaining finalists were each guaranteed a purse of $30,000. Dressed as a robot from a popular movie, Rikki Jai, a former monarch, got the crowd going as he told them he was low on energy and needed his Guinness and Puncheon to boost him up.
Charles, who relied heavily on the sheer popularity of his song, did not put as much emphasis into the onstage presentation as did the other competitors, while Persad, on the other hand, gave it his all, ending his rendition and riding off the stage on a white horse. Also delivering strong performances were fifth- and sixth-placed finishers Omardath Maraj and Lalchan “Hunter” Babwah, who performed The Army and Bring de Puncheon, respectively. However, last year’s monarch Kenneth Salick, who opened the competition, failed to generate the support needed to even grant him a place among the top six, as his performance of his competition, How Long, failed to move the crowd. Other performances included that of Dil-e-Nadan singer Derrick Seales, who sang Chutney and Lovers; Soca Elvis singing Rum Doh Bother Me; Andy Singh with Girl From India; Neeshan “Hitman” Prabhoo, who sang Spanner; and, Heeralal Rampertap with Revival.
As heavily armed police officers kept watch, the patrons jumped and pranced well into the night, stopping only to make frequent trips to the bar. In addition to the competitors, entertainment was provided by a host of other talents, including Moko jumbies, Anil Bheem and Shurwayne Winchester, as well as bands Karma, BMRZ, JMC 3Veni, Spread Pal Crew and the Gayatones. As the results were announced, shortly before 3 am, an elated Ravi B embraced and even bowed and touched the shoe of Rikki Jai, whom he hailed as one of his mentors in the soca chutney arena. “Now, Karma is the Chutney Soca monarch. I will make you a monarch that you all can be proud of,” he said as he was hoisted onto the shoulders of his friends.
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