Mumbai boy Shantanu Maheshwari went on America’s Got Talent and danced with Nick Cannon. Now, he’s set for one at home
Dancer and television actor Shantanu Maheshwari speaks to us between a break in rehearsals. The 25-year-old is preparing for the popular TV show, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, which will go on air this weekend.
“I shoot for 12 hours for Girls on Top (a fiction show on MTV), and then spend four to five hours practicising for Jhalak…,” he says.
The schedule is gruelling, but Maheshwari is in no mood to slow down. He’s currently on a high as he and his hip-hop crew, Desi Hoppers, performed on America’s Got Talent (AGT), last month. Desi Hoppers grooved to a mix of Turn Down for What (DJ Snake and Lil Jon) and Tukur Tukur (from the movie Dilwale). “We got a standing ovation,” Maheshwari says, adding, “All the four judges were pleased. It was a big achievement.”
Last year, Desi Hoppers won the World of Dance championship in Los Angeles, and their journey was being filmed for the TV show, Bindaas Naach. Maheshwari says, “We were invited by the AGT team after they saw our performance on World of Dance. Back then, we had a TV crew shadowing us, so there were familiar faces around us. But we didn’t know anyone at AGT. There were no Indian faces; it was just the six of us dancers.”
A short clip released by AGT on its YouTube channel shows host Nick Cannon doing a li’l jig with Desi Hoppers. “Cannon spoke to us and was amazed that we’d come all the way from India to perform,” Maheshwari says. While the AGT episode featuring Desi Hoppers has aired in the US, Maheshwari is still waiting to see a clip. “We ourselves don’t know how we performed,” he laughs.
Meanwhile, on Jhalak…he has plans to try dance styles that he hasn’t really explored so far — namely, ballroom styles such as the foxtrot and jive. Maheshwari’s choreographer on the show is Alisha Singh, his old co-star from Channel V’s fiction show, Dil Dostii Dance, in 2011. The show was Maheswari’s first break in the entertainment industry. “Knowing Alisha helps because I’m am an introvert, and if you’re not comfortable with someone on stage, it shows.” But pitching a skilled dancer against those on the show who may be learning to dance for the first time sounds unfair. “It’s not about who’s the best dancer but about who progresses the most. We need to be able to visually show the difference in our dance.
So it’s actually tougher for all of us,” he says.
Follow Shantanu Maheshwari’s journey on Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. July 30 onward, it will air on Colors every Saturday and Sunday at 10pm.