Dancing wonders and reality show winners Sonali Majumdar and Maraju Sumant who were in the city recently for a show

At nine and 14, dancers Sonali Majumdar and Maraju Sumant are already accustomed to signing autographs. When we meet them, Sonali is busy scrawling her name in bold across a scrap of paper for a fan. She then looks admiringly at her handiwork and passes it to Sumant. His sign is more refined. “The first time I was asked for an autograph I had no clue. I copied what Bivash sir was doing and wrote the same thing,” he laughs. That was last year when they won India’s Got Talent.

Since then they have caught the nation’s attention with their spectacular dancing that often leaves the audience biting their lips in anxiety. This year the duo participated in Jhalak Dikhlaa Ja and finished as second runners-up. “I miss the show and everybody from the team. Lauryn didi was my favourite. Shaan uncle gifted us an iPad. On the show we got to perform a wide repertoire of dances,” says Sonali.

She can barely pronounce contemporary but ask her to do a step from the genre and she does it spot on and with ease. Salsa, classical, hip hop, ballet, robotics, rock and roll are some of the styles the two are trained in. The joke is when Sonali first joined Bivash Academy of Dance (BAD) and heard the word salsa she wanted to know if that was food. From Bagdah village in West Bengal to performing across the globe, it has been quite a fairytale journey for her. She used to dance in her village and her interest brought her to Kolkata two years ago where Bivash of BAD Dance Academy took it upon himself to train her.

Sumant, who is from Bhubaneshwar, had a passion for dance and spent much of his time dancing in front of the television copying steps that the heroes did. He happened to watch a salsa performance on TV by BAD Academy’s dancers and was intrigued. His father took him to Kolkata and enrolled him at the academy. “I travelled every weekend from Bhubaneswar to Kolkata to attend classes. Bivash sir trained us and got us to audition for India’s Got Talent,” he says.

The two now live in Kolkata with Bivash sir and his wife who accompanies them on all their tours. “We shuttle between Mumbai and Kolkata and visit our families once a month. Sir not only teaches us dance but also good habits. Thanks to him we are what we are today,” he adds. As for school, they get tutored at home and their school allows them to appear for their final examinations. “I am in the X grade now. Maths is so tough. Dancing is any day easier,” he says.

Meanwhile Sonali has drifted off. She’s engrossed watching cartoons on television. “I love Chota Bheem and Doraemon,” she grins. “She basically loves watching television,” laughs Sumant and immediately gets a sharp look from Sonali. Do we sense the beginnings of a fight? They laugh. “Sumant da is my best friend but we also fight. I tell on him if he’s not studying or doing what he’s supposed to; and he complains about me if I am not doing my steps right,” she says.

Up next are quite a few shows and they are also training for the World Salsa Championships. “We want to prove to the world that Indians can salsa very well.”