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    Shantanu Maheshwari gears up for Season 9 of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 

    WITH celebrity dance reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa (JDJ) rolling out season 9 tomorrow, featuring a mix of actors, dancers, and even a chef as contestants, we spoke to Shantanu Maheshwari about his JDJ outing. The 25-year-old is most remembered as the shy Swayam of the TV show, Dil Dosti Dance, and founding-member of Desi Hoppers, the first Indian troupe to win the World Of Dance championship in LA last year, since its inception in 2008. His Desi Hoppers also became the first Indian crew to be invited to perform (their East-meets-West recital) on America’s Got Talent, last month.

    Eye on Hegde
    Maheshwari, known for his popping and waving skills, is aware of the past JDJ results, which haven’t been in favour of professional dancers (like Lauren Gottlieb). “What I have understood about the show after joining it is that a contestant is marked on his/her progress as a dancer. It doesn’t matter if I am a better dancer than others. What matters to the judges is if I perform better than I did in the previous episodes,” he says.
    In the first episode, he will put up a freestyle act, and admits he wants to impress singer-choreographer Ganesh Hegde, who is one of the judges. “He’s a tough nut to crack,” reasons the actor, currently seen as singer Sahir Bhasin on MTV’s Girls On Top.
    While Maheshwari’s America’s Got Talent outing is yet to be aired on Indian TV (we’re two seasons away from the 11th he was invited for), he tells us that it is worth the wait. “We got a thumbs up from all the four judges, including the difficult-to-impress Simon Cowell, and a standing ovation from the audience. Above all, we represented India on the world stage,” says Maheshwari about the act which fused street hip-hop with Indian classical dance, and Hindi song Tukur Tukur with the single, Turn Down For What. “We are hoping that they will call us again for Level 2 of the competition,” signs off the Kolkata boy.
    Premieres July 30, 10 pm on Colors.

    —Barkha Kumari

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