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Eight-year-old Indian dancer Akshat Singh has become an overnight sensation in the U.S. thanks to his recent appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. But he’s been a pop-culture star in his native country for some time now.
In December 2011, Singh started his path to digital stardom dancing to Hindi music in the family room of his home in Calcutta, India, wearing nothing except underwear. Video of the youngster hit almost 200,000 views.
Three years later, Singh floored the celebrity judges on India’s reality competition show, India’s Got Talent, whose video on YouTube not only received massive attention but also sparked coverage from CNN, Good Morning America, People and E! Online. His provocative moves, facial expressions and flexibility for an 8-year-old, plump boy surprised viewers internationally, generating a million hits.
“I’m in shock. This agility, for this weight, is outstanding,” said India’s Got Talent judge and Bollywood director Karan Johar. “Nobody else has this rhythm,” added another judge, Malaika Arora Khan. The video was soon taken down and reposted by CNN and various outlets. Watch his original performance that led to his fame.
Before the producers of Ellen invited the dancer to the show, Singh appeared in a Vodafone commercial this year, mimicking his idol and inspiration since age 3, Salman Khan, a popular Bollywood actor. “Salman and I have one thing in common: all girls are after us,” he told a reporter from an Indian news outlet after his return from America. Since age 4, Singh has repeatedly watched the Bollywood actor’s movies, practicing dance at home and in studios almost every day.
Singh’s first visit to the States included an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, for which he put together a crowd-jeering performance of body rolls, handstands, intricate step movements and splits. On his return to India, Singh told reporters of his experience on the show: “I had a lot of fun. I was so excited to go to America to celebrate Valentine’s day and I found a valentine … Ellen,” he said, having no knowledge of the talk show host before his invitation. During the segment, the floor opened up to an extended performance where Singh danced to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis‘ “Can’t Hold Us Down.” Watch his video below.
The young hip-thruster also has a certain obsession with chicken as he mentions the food in multiple interviews. “There were a lot of chubby people with nice faces,” he said to the reporter from his trip. “And I was also one of them. Over there, the chicken was really good.” He referred to his stomach as the “family pack” of chicken and peas.
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