Faced no racism: Desi 'American Idol' contestant

'Turbanator' Gurpreet Singh Sarin happens to be luckier than Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. The young man of Indian origin, who made it to the top 40 on the "American Idol" reality show, says he didn't face any racial discrimi

Friday, March 22, 2013 | 4:42:08 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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'Turbanator' Gurpreet Singh Sarin happens to be luckier than Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. The young man of Indian origin, who made it to the top 40 on the "American Idol" reality show, says he didn't face any racial discrimination on his journey to achieving a fusion of Indian classical music and western music.

"I am very thankful I did not face anything like that (racism) from the judges or any other people," the US-based Gurpreet told IANS over the phone from New York.

"I was conscious that there must be people who might be ignorant and racist and did not understand where I come from, but I was just focussed on my singing, and moving on to the next level of competition," added the singer, earned the 'Turbanator' moniker thanks to the colourful turbans he sported on "American Idol".

This is quite unlike what Shilpa Shetty faced in Britain when she was a part of "Celebrity Big Brother" in 2007. She was bullied by the other contestants and the racist attacks attracted a furore from several quarters. Ultimately, Shilpa won the competition.

But even while Gurpreet is now out of the show, he is happy he has been "able to educate people about myself through my passion and dream, and that has been a blessing".

He left the judges, global celebrities like Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban, with his talent and even made "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest do the bhangra on the show, which airs on channel BIG CBS LOVE.

A trained classical singer, the 22-year-old belongs to a family with an inclination for instruments like the tabla, sitar and flute. Through the music platform, Gurpreet wanted to show how the two worlds - Indian and western - can be brought together.

"One reason why I wanted to be on the show was to show everyone how I can incorporate Indian classical music into American music. There have been artists like Norah Jones who have incorporated Indian classical influences and I got an opportunity to do the same," he said.

A student of Computers and Information Science at a university in New York, Gurpreet has Bollywood in mind too. However, his influences include artists like tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, sarod expert Amjad Ali Khan and late sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, who expanded India's presence on the world map with their talent.

Gurpreet admits that as a contestant on "American Idol", he served as an inspiration and encouragement for other Indian-origin youngsters in the US. He says he received immense support through the online medium.

"I would get messages from my fans saying that being an Indian, I am encouraging them and I am their role model. For me that was a wonderful opportunity. I wasn't even conscious how large a role model I had become," Gurpreet said.

He, however, wants to finish his studies first before giving himself completely to the music world and is thankful about the exposure he got through "American Idol".

(Yashika Mathur can be contacted at

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Posted on: 22 March 2013 at 11:45pm
@dare.devil: Oh really? You don't have time to sit and argue, while you were doing exactly the same? Ironic much? Showoff? Seriously? What did this guy do to showoff? I would love to know that new piece of information exclusively provided by you. And yes, I am very much aware of the other Indian people who have participated in these contests, and he is doing exactly the same. A good addition to that list, isn't it? And instead of showing least bit of gratitude, you throwing attitudes? And about Shilpa Shetty, she has her own achievements, why draw comparison? Both are committed to their own respective careers. But some people just won't understand.

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Posted on: 22 March 2013 at 7:23pm
Oh please!!! I dont have time to sit here and argue with you!!
I just thought that He is just doing what he is good at..just like I and you are doing what we are good at. But not everyone is a showoff. Also if you havent realized there have been many many Indians in top 40, its not the first time nor an over-achievement to be compared to SHILPA SHETTY (eventhough not a fan of her).
Peace out!

Edited on:22 March 2013 at 7:33pm

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Posted on: 22 March 2013 at 6:10pm
He is doing a great work! So proud of him! It was a treat watching him promoting our culture! Maybe better luck next time! Hope to see him soon!
@dare.devil: Easy said than done. Just jealous or what? Please try to even do as much as he did! Could you make it? I guess we know the answer LOL You are just one of those hypocrite people who like to judge people!

Edited on:22 March 2013 at 6:13pm

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Posted on: 22 March 2013 at 2:05pm

he is not the first indian on American idol!! there have been others, achieved far better than him

LMAO at his role model comment...dude rnt u a little full of urself!!

Anoop Desai on the other hand would be a role model for the struggling singers..he was in TOP 7 and now that means something!!!

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Posted on: 22 March 2013 at 11:19am
he wasn't the first there was Anoop Desai who made to the top 5. People in US have become less ignorant

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Posted on: 22 March 2013 at 8:01am
That is my friend right there!!! not only he is like that on tv, in reality he is a great friend and person...he is an amazing personality on his own...I remember working with him 3 years back and since then I know he is amazing and jovial guy...he really did great in Idol, sad he didn't make it past the top 20 round...

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