In a short span of 3-4 weeks they had to pick out their costumes and get creative, innovative and compete in front of Bollywood stars who have seen and done it all.
Some partners got lucky because they found common grounds and synchronicity-others struggled to blend, two lost their partners 10 days before the show but found each other to start all over again with a handicap. But in all the trials and triumphs, the never say die spirit kept these pairs working hard, and committed to giving the stars and the audience their money’s worth.
Vidya Balan of Parineeta and Lage Raho Munna Bhai fame, Mona Singh the
lead actress of Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin, and Noureen Premji from Atlanta
formed the trio that judged the competition. Singers par excellence, and
teeny bopper heart throbs Rahul Vaidya and Abhijeet Sawant accompanied
by Sonia Dara, a super achieving teen model and Sonia Seernani, a former
Miss India-Georgia, joined hands to co-emcee the show and keep it
rocking. Abu Malik master minded the arrangements from India.
was followed by the arrival of singer Rahul Vaidya on the stage crooning
Bachna Ai Haseeno, in his melodious voice which had won him the title of
best singer in the show Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar competing with the
winners of many reality music shows.
to perform were Vishwanath Rajshekhar and Neha Chugh. Neha has danced
when she was young at family events and parties. When she went to
college she took some dance classes. While she has been in a beauty
pageant where she danced as part of the talent round, she has never
competed in a show like this.
came the brother and sister team of Nisha and Vijay Pavlia, who lucked
out when they got selected to dance together. Both are trained dancers
and choreographers and say that the best part of dancing together is
they know each other’s strength and weaknesses and work very well
together. The challenge of course is when as siblings they clash over
whose choreography should be in the dance. Eventually they compromise by
going with the best idea.
The contestants to follow were the interesting duo of Deepesh Kara and Sumera Jiva. In fact during the rehearsals for the show when asked who their worst contestant was, the choreographers had chorused-Deepesh! Deepesh!!” When 24 year old Deepesh Kara and his partner Sumera Jiva 16, heard that comment they laughed. “ Yeah but I won a competition at the mall,” said Deepesh laughing” Okay so I was 9 then!” Since then it has been the occasional garba at the Gujarati samaj, for Deepesh, until 16 year old Sumera Jiva came into the picture and transformed Kara into a charismatic act! “Yes when Deepesh showed me his audition dance I said Oh my God we have a quite a mountain to climb, but he has worked so hard for long hours with such commitment, that it is amazing to see how far he has come,” says Sumera.
Deepesh was equally complimentary about his partner saying she has a maturity as a choreographer that goes far beyond her 16 years, and has really blown him away with her talent and patience. And along with the stars, his startled parents were to be in the audience. “When I told them about the show they said-You ARE doing WHAT?” laughs Deepesh but says he is confident they and Atlanta will be blown away by their act.
And not just mom and dad, the entire audience and the judges were in for a surprise of their life when Deepesh and Sumera hit the stage- he in black and white and she in a cutesier white outfit with black Polka dots to the strains of Ye Dil... their clean cut moves, the panache and charm with which the two danced, brought the house down. The judges were delighted and loved the extra zing Deepesh brought into his moves, and they loved the lifts as well. They thought Sumera rocked with her charm.. Noureen disagreed with the other two, calling the performance dull, with nothing new in it and that while she saw the talent, she also saw a lack of energy. Rahul promptly christened her the Simon Cowell of the show laughingly.
duo of two young wives then came on stage in lovely lehnga cholis.
Akansha Agarwal and Mital Shah, both 25, both married with family
responsibilities-one from Meerut India the other from New Zealand, were
excited to be together because of the commonalities they share and the
understanding when it comes to handling other commitments and
responsibilities along with this one. Mital danced for fun in school and
college. Akansha won a small competition at a club in India recently but
neither has danced on such a starry platform. “We have become such
good friends, and it has been really challenging to realize that once
the auditions were done we had to organize everything from the dances,
the choreography, the clothes and that too in a very short time,’ said
the duo and added that they felt very confident that the competing teams
will make it a night to remember for all because everyone had been
working so hard.
next contestants Akshaya Murlidhar and Divya Ramawamy 16, learn
Bharatnatyam at Akshaya’s mom’s school. They have however only
gotten to know each other after being paired together and found out they
are kindred spirits. Both were happy to have made it to the finalists’
team. Divya said the challenging part was how good everyone was and the
exciting thing for her has been the fact that she has bonded very well
with Akshaya. “ We are like sisters now!”
Budhani, 20, does not have training in dance and is mostly self taught
but Eti Nahar 19, says he has been an amazing partner. “Other than my
constant fear that he may drop me during one of the stunts I have loved
working with him.” “Yes a couple of the stunts haven’t worked
out,” laughs Raheem but he still intended to muscle his way to success
at the show.
next performers were Shivani Gandhi 19, the newly crowned Miss India
Georgia and Nikhat Nazar Ali 20. The two had been merrily going along
rehearsing with their partners when barely 10 days before the show hit
the stage, their partners dropped out. They ended up being paired
together and had to start all over from scratch-not only in creating new
items, but also coordinating their moves. “I was bummed out initially
because we had worked hard,” says Shivani, “ but then I met Nikhat
and we quickly got everything ready. We had to again plan our costumes
as well.” Shivani is a trained dancer with her Bharatnatyam arangetram
behind her and won Boogie woogie from Atlanta. Nikhat has danced mostly
for fun but taken 2 years of Kathak training. Both said they were in the
competition to have fun more than the competing and winning, and also to
show not just the stars but the people of Atlanta that there is a lot of
untapped, unknown talent ready to explode in town.
auditioned originally as a participant but her moves were so original
and unique that the judges decided to let her choreograph. The teenager
said she loved working with her partner who is almost close to double
her age but Jessica never felt the age difference. “We collaborated a
lot and we got along so well.” Galice Pace said the only film with any
Indian connections that she has watched is Bend it like Beckham! She
auditioned for the fun of it, in spite of the challenge of performing to
songs from an alien culture. Both expected people to enjoy their
original moves, different from the traditional Indian dance as they
brought their own background into it.
* Kavita Chhibber is an accomplished freelance writer and media personality. She writes for Dr Deepak Chopra's website www.intentblog.com. She is well-known for her interviews of celebrities, authors and public officials. But she also writes hard-hitting news articles and cover stories for publications.
© Globalom Media 2001-2008