There was almost next to no prospect of Akshat ‘India’s Got Talent’ Singh failing on “Ellen.” It is not so much his dancing—which is fairly good—as the sheer joy he exudes while dancing that makes him compelling. In that he reminds me of Govinda. Of course, Govinda is a consummate dancer who also packs his performance with so much joy that it is impossible to resist when he is on screen.
Those who perform anything with unbridled joy seem to be asking you, “I am joyous. Why aren’t you?” Joy has extraordinary power to coopt anyone.
Without sounding mean-spirited I have never been an admirer of children performing. More often than their talent is not fully formed and yet the audience feels obliged to applaud the mere fact that they perform at all. There is the danger of being an asshole in not applauding a child performer. I could be that asshole. Cute is a poor substitute for talent if one has to endure it more than six seconds.
That said Akshat is a natural on stage. He has zero stage fright because he is so into himself. He also has natural charisma that comes from being uninhibited.
Watching his brief interview after his performance on ‘Ellen’ it struck me that the audience missed out on a telling part of his answer to Ellen’s question whether he thinks he would win. Akshat replied, “I have gone to ‘India’s Got Talent’ only to show my talent to whole India… that Motu can also dance.” The audience got the operative part of his answer but not “…that Motu can also dance”. The “Motu” part was not translated. Motu is a Hindi word, often used mildly pejoratively in India, and it means a fat kid. Akshat has probably been called that many times and perhaps even derided for his dancing. This is his way of getting even. Good for the kid.
One would find thousands of children on the streets of India who can perform with equal ease and may be even with finer talent. It is not possible to showcase them all. Lucky for Akshat that he got picked up. Of course, he is not a street kid. From the looks of it he comes from a happy middleclass family. By his own admission he likes to eat well and that precludes any prospect of a penurious, hungry life that the often immensely talented street children have to endure. At the beginning of my journalistic career I used to write a daily column called “Street Walker” where I features those who live on Bombay’s streets but have some hidden talent. It was quite frequently that I met very talented children whose lives were devoured by poverty.