Rikki Jai (Samraj Jaimungal) became the first $2 million monarch of Carnival 2011 when he won the NLCB Chutney Soca Monarch competition at Skinner Park, San Fernando, on Saturday night,
Jai's victory, however, drew mixed reactions, with cheers and boos from the packed audience when he was announced as the winner. The soca chutney star, who has won the title five times, ran onto the stage and almost fainted at the sight of the $2 million cheque held by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Winston "Gypsy" Peters.
Jai amassed a total of 18,285 votes, 7,104 more votes than second place winner Ravi B.
An elated Jai later said he felt honoured to be the first artiste to win the lucrative first prize. He said it was no easy battle but he did what he had to do. He said he had not yet decided what he would do with the money, but only good things would be done. He promised that it would not be wasted and that he believed in charity. Rikki Jai made a grand entrance onto the stage for his performance of White Oak and Water, dramatically bursting through a large model of a bottle of White Oak rum.
Dressed elegantly in an all-white suit, he was able to command the crowd with a scintillating performance. He immediately announced his retirement from the competition. "I had always said that if I won this year's Chutney Soca Monarch competition, I will resign from the competition and I will be going for the calypso title next," he said. He expressed gratitude to his family, friends, fans and to the People's Partnership Government. About the mixed crowd reactions, he said text voting was not as simple as it seemed. Runner-up Ravi B, who won the title last year, came onto the stage to the opening of his song I Am a Player, before his tune of choice I Cannot Come when I Drink my Liquor.
The Karma lead singer performed with energy and class, drawing wild applause from the crowd when he did a series of precision dance moves. At the end of his performance, he took on a robotic appearance as he walked off stage with an emblazoned image of the letter R on his back. KI Persad, of JMC Triveni, placed third. Dressed in a black leather suit and singing I Not Drinking No More Rum, he dazzled the crowd. Rick Ramoutar also had a good performance and placed fourth. He was supported on stage by soca artiste Ziggy Ranking and had the crowd singing along to his song, I Should Have Never. Rounding off the top five was Hunter (Lalchan Babwah) who was entertaining with his rendition, Your Tanty's Man. Hunter even brought out his "tanty's man" who gyrated all around the stage to the crowd's amusement.
The show began promptly at 9 pm with a 35-minute opening sequence which featured dance performances by the Premala Dance Academy, Nirvana Dance Group and the Malick Folk Performers.
There was also a lively performance by calypso veteran Black Stalin with his classic Come Out To Party.
There were also a guest appearance by Machel Montano HD, featuring energetic performances from Machel, Patrice Roberts, Farmer Nappy, Zan and 15-year-old Pranava Maharaj. Persad Bissessar and Peters, along with a contingent of Government officials, were warmly applauded when they appeared on the stage. The Prime Minister praised Southex CEO George Singh, saying that the show was excellently done. Peters did an extempo piece in which he stated that the Chutney Soca Monarch represented unity and that he was happy to see Indian and Africans united. "When oil and gas runs out, at least we will have our arts to rely on," Peters sang.