From a Bengal Village to the US Stage: This 15-Year-Old in the Finals of America’s Got Talent is a Farmer’s Daughter

Pop Culture

From a Bengal Village to the US Stage: This 15-Year-Old in the Finals of America’s Got Talent is a Farmer’s Daughter

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

The coronavirus pandemic has made countries worldwide shut down their borders and focus inwards, on containing the virus and resurrecting their economies. But if you thought that meant that multiculturalism would take a back seat, treat yourself to BAD Salsa, a dancing troupe that just made the finals of Season 15 of America’s Got Talent. It features dancers from Kolkata, representing a school from Mumbai, appearing on a US talent competition, while performing a Cuban dance form. Now that’s multiculturalism at its finest. The pair of 15-year-old Sonali Majumdar and 21-year-old Maraju Sumanth have impressed the judges on the popular talent competition, sealing their place in the finals with some eye-catching dance performances.

Sonali’s story is especially inspiring. In a video, she revealed that she grew up in a village and her father is a poor farmer from West Bengal, who earned around ₹70 a day. Life was hard but she says, “There was one escape and that was watching Bollywood films.” From dreaming about films to dancing on an international stage to those movie songs, Sonali has certainly come a long long way.

This is not BAD Salsa’s first rodeo, or to be more accurate, salsa. Before appearing on America’s Got Talent, BAD Salsa were winners of India’s Got Talent, and then went on to appear on a special Champions edition of Britain’s Got Talent. However, the duo of Sonali and Maraju, who won India’s Got Talent, could not compete together in Britain’s Got Talent because Maraju could not make it to the competition. Now, the winning combination is back together for the American edition of the show and they’ve gone all the way to the finals.

In 2013, Sonali was the second-runner up on Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. She teamed up with Maraju in 2017 and made an appearance on Dance Champions.

Folks in India are elated by the success of BAD Salsa. The troupe’s name, while appearing misleading at first, is actually an acronym for Bivash Academy of Dance, a Mumbai-based dance school. Clearly, they’re doing something right over there because their star students are winning fans worldwide.

Sidharth Shukla, someone who knows a thing or two about winning a popular reality show, also gave BAD Salsa a shout-out and wished them luck before their tilt in the finals.

With one great performance between them and another title, BAD Salsa is ready to dance circles around the competition.