Rooplal’s powerful voice rang out sending the crowds in a frenzy when he appeared in eighth position at Skinner Park, San Fernando, before a huge crowd.
His first tune, “Mera Piya” (My Beloved) was done in traditional chutney style with Hindi words. Singing about the love of his life, he was ably supported by former Miss Mastana Bahar, Susan Badree and members of the Clico Shiv Shakti Dance Company.
In the second round of the competition Rooplal went all soca to do the tune, “Sweet Music,” sending the crowd wild. In the end, Rooplal whipped 14 other contestants to retain his crown. Five times winner of the competition Rikki Jai had to settle for second place with a cheque for $100,000 and the TSTT’s People Choice of $30,000. Jai appeared first in the competition with the song, “Take off the Kangana” and in the second round he did his popular traditional chutney of “Bol Bolay.” Another strong contender, Heeralal Rampartap, who took the crown on three previous occasions, placed third doing the tunes “Bulai Lawu” and “Old Man.”
Although he failed to make it in the first ten, the reigning Calypso Monarch Luta was well received by the audience. He first did “The Recipe” singing that people in TT can unite culturally, followed by “Curry Duck” which was an uptempo chutney soca tune.
Among the four female contenders in the competition, Carlene Wells scored the most points to gain the fourth position. She sang “Light Up the Fire” and “Meh Chutney Music.”
Some sections of the crowd showed their displeasure with some aspects of the judging and shouted at the announcers Marissa Maharaj and Ken Lallie but Lallie reminded them that the judges’ decisions were final.
In fifth place was Adesh Samaroo who sang “Jhulay Jhulay” and “Rum Like That.” Adesh was clearly a crowd favourite as his wicked laugh caused patrons to scream.
Sarika Mahabir placed sixth with her songs “Sundar Mana Jaisa” and “Ah Want To Party.”
A first timer on the chutney soca stage, Michael Salloum — “Soca Elvis” was supported in his act by members of the Durga Shakti Dance Company. He did the tunes, “Chutney Wine” and “That is my Music” which earned him the seventh spot.
Nishan “Hitman” Prabhu placed eighth with Tricia Hamilton ninth and Lal Bharat capturing the tenth spot.
The event promoted by Southex International was opened by the reigning Road March King Machel Montano, HD. He was backed by the Clico Shiv Shakti Dance Company. During his half hour performance he did several of his hits including this year’s Road March contender, “Jumbie.”
The event remained one of the top shows in the southern part of the country drawing a crowd of more than 10,000.
This year, prize money totalling $520,000 was donated by the Ministry of Culture. Minister Joan Yuille-Williams who attended the show called on the audience to have a safe Carnival while inviting patrons to the Panorama finals, carded for the same venue on Carnival Saturday, February 17. She also congratulated the CEO of Southex George Singh for his effort in hosting “a successful running” chutney competition in south through the years.
Among those who did not make in the first ten were: Luta, Edward Ramdass, Neeshan Sultan, Phoolmatie Ramjattan, and Ramdeen ‘Falko’ Maharaj.
The show started at 9.10 pm and ended at 3.30 am yesterday. The big band, Dil-E-Nadan did not perform as advertised.
Music for the contestants was provided by TTEC Gayatones under the direction of Rishi Gayadeen and JMC 3Veni with Veerendra Persad.