Salsero Sumanth Maroju and the BAD Salsa:
Time and again Odisha’s amazing performers have proven their mettle and shone on national and international platforms. And now Sumanth Maroju, from Bhubaneswar, Partnered with Kolkata’s Sonali Majumdar (15), Salseros of BAD Salsa, join the list.
Kolkata-based BAD Salsa just got selected for the finale with a standing ovation from celebrity judges Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and Sofia Vergara, at America’s Got Talent Season 15 (AGT).
Talking about standing ovations, they did it again, after winning India’s Got Talent and various titles in Indian shows like Jhalak Dikhla Ja and others. What looks like being straight out of a Bollywood dance movie about going from the streets to the big stage, has actually come true for an Odia boy and a Bengali girl.
How the pair was formed?
The dancing prodigies were partnered together when they were still kids. Sumanth hailing from Bhubaneswar joined the Bivash Academy of Dance (BAD) and Sonali would travel five hours from Bagda to get to the institute. They both started staying in a Gurukul-styled dance academy to get trained better. Sumanth is 21 now, and Sonali 15.
Before India’s Got Talent 2012, the duo got paired accidentally and have been strong ever since, says their instructor Bivash. Bivash Chowdhury got into the spotlight back in 2007 and runs the academy along with his wife.
Sumanth Maroju: The making of the prodigies
Sumanth is an alumnus of Kendriya Vidyalaya Number 3, Bhubaneswar, and has been an active member of Bharatiya Yoga Sansthan, Bhubaneswar. The multitalented boy is enthusiastic about sports and is a kabaddi player too. Sumanth’s father is a clerk with the Indian Railways, who is a yoga instructor at his leisure. His doting mother is a homemaker.
It was the constant support of his parents which enabled Sumanth to pursue his dreams.
Sumanth was trained in hip-hop before he finessed his skills of salsa with footwork and acrobatics. Due to his relentless travel, Sumanth finished his intermediary from Lonavala and is doing his graduation from IGNOU. Sonali hails from a migrant Bengali family from Bangladesh who settled in Bagda.
The then 7-year-old astonished the panel of India’s Got Talent in 2012 and hasn’t looked back since. Hailing from an underprivileged family, Sonali’s parents gave up everything for their daughter. She’s been training with BAD for about a decade now.
Journey of a lifetime at a tender age
At only 13 and seven years of age respectively, Sumanth and Sonali bagged the winning titles of a national show that harnessed all kinds of talent. BAD Salsa became the second runner’s up of Jhalak Dikhla Jaa Season 6 and performed on TV for Star Plus’ Dance Champions.
The duo even participated in Britain’s Got Talent in 2019, which gave the world performers like Fifth Harmony and One Direction. This was a major international standpoint for them. They then participated in America’s Got Talent in 2020.
Sumanth Maroju in the Season 15 of America’s Got Talent
The jury of America’s Got Talent isn’t the easiest panel out there. When it comes to celebrity judges that BAD Salsa is something out of a movie, it is a point noted. They have received multiple standing ovations throughout the show.
Mentor and the mentee
Behind every Arjun was a Dronacharya and similarly behind BAD Salsa was Bivash Chowdhury, who left his hometown and shifted to Mumbai for his students. The traveling for the shows was getting expensive, he recollects. His sheer dedication and constant hard-work reflect in the young prodigies who are recognized and loved all over the world. A full panel ‘yes’ in audition and direct promotion to quarterfinals in judges cut was the stepping stone for BAD salsa.
The quarter-finals were remotely held from India due to pandemic yet the duo managed a standing ovation for their fast-paced footwork with Bollywood influence. The Semi-Finals were rather bouncy for the duo when they received fewer Dunkin Save Votes. However, a unanimous Judges’ choice by Sofia and Howie advanced them to the finals.
The duo performed to an acrobatic number to elements of ‘Top Lesi Poddi’ in the semifinals. Needless to say, a whole country now aspires to see the dynamic duo of BAD Salsa to be crowned the winner in Season 15 of America’s Got Talent. Like David Williams and Howie Mandel remarked, ‘it’s not bad salsa but good salsa’, the pair is definitely set to set new standards for Western dance forms in the Indian context.