America’s Got Talent has been on air for 13 years and not once, I repeat myself, not once has a foreign group won the title. Can India’s dance group V. Unbeatable beat that record on AGT? Let’s talk about that.
Although there is enough buzz about the V Unbeatable in India and now in America, here is a piece of the story you might not have heard before.
V Unbeatable: The Untold Story of AGT’s Contestants from India
“After completing class 10, I ran away from home to come to Mumbai,” Om Prakash told Reddiff.com. “I took up some small jobs till I found work in a shop selling sunglasses.”
“A few years ago, I came to know about this place where some boys from the street would come and practice b-boying. Since I loved dancing, I started rehearsing with them, learning the moves. I didn’t have money to join a dancing school, so I would learn from whatever I saw, whoever was willing to teach me.”V Unbeatable team member.
Ten years later, Om Prakash Chauhan is leading a dance troupe of 28 students who come from the slums of Mumbai.
That’s how he met Vikas, the name the team V Unbeatable carry with them in every performance.
“Whatever I learned in dance is because of him. Vikas and I started our own dance group Unbeatable where we would train the slum kids in our free time.”
“Vikas met with an unfortunate accident and lost his life. It was a big setback for all of us,” Chauhan added.
The V before V unbeatable’s name and the Vikas on their T-shirt
“Six years ago, we were doing rehearsals and suddenly (an) incident happened,” a member of the group said. “(Vikas Gupta) fell down and his body was paralyzed from (the neck) down. After a few weeks he passed away and we were all broken.”
Every time the group performs, they pay homage to Vikas by adding Vikas’s name to their team’s jersey. After his death the group initially disintegrated and they changed the name of their group to V Unbeatable after Vikas.
All members of the V Unbeatable group come from financially challenging backgrounds.
“One of them (team members) works as a bus conductor for a school bus and spares his break time between 3 and 4 pm to learn dancing. Sanjay goes to school and sells flower garlands with his father. Every evening he makes some excuse and comes to Naigaon to join us” Chauhan told Rediff.com
V Unbeatable’s member Chauhan recalls an incident during their rehearsal “When Suraj, one of our members was caught sleeping during rehearsals, I yelled at him. He silently heard me out and then complained how helpless he was.”
In the morning, he worked as a paper delivery boy, sold clothes on the streets during the day and came to dance with the team during the evening.
“It’s not your fault for yelling at me, but what can I do? When do I sleep?” Suraj asked Prakash after the rehearsal.
“I felt really bad for yelling at him. He didn’t even have a pair of shoes or chappals on his feet,” Chauhan added.AGT contestant, V Unbeatable
Every member of the V Unbeatable group has a story about overcoming poverty
“Most parents are not supportive. And they have a valid reason too. These kids lie to their parents to come for rehearsals otherwise they are not allowed. They can either study or work, but dancing is not even an option,” Prakash told Divya Nair from Rediff.com.
AGT contacted them for Auditions but they had no money for tickets or an American Visa
After going viral on social media, “In May 2019, I received an e-mail from AGT’s team to come for the auditions in California. I was happy but at the same time, I was stressed.
“When I told them that we didn’t have the money to book the tickets, they agreed to pay for the visa and tickets on one condition. That if we failed to make it through the auditions, I would have to repay the money. It was a big risk for us,” Chauhan said.AGT dance crew from India, V Unbeatable
When they shared this news with their families and parents, only a few of them were willing to help. Most of them felt it wasn’t worth the risk.
“We had only 10 days to prepare. We rehearsed for 16 hours a day but never gave up. I sold off my bike, took a loan from a friend and signed up for their (the group’s) passports.”Dance crew contestant from India’s slum on America’s Got Challenge
“When I went for the visa interview, I put everything at stake.”
In the end, he only had this to say about AGT and winning the competition.
“I want to give a better life to the kids who supported this dream and sacrificed everything. It is because they gave it their 200 per cent so we could live to tell this story to the world.”