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Mumbai slums to LA, how this dance troupe chased chance to win America’s Got Talent

V Unbeatable, a team of 29 dancers from slums of Mumbai's Bhayander and Naigaon, found international glory after winning the US reality show. They received $1 million as prize money.

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New Delhi: Mumbai-based dance group V Unbeatable, which won the second season of America’s Got Talent:The Champions earlier this week, has a story synonymous to hundreds of slumdog millionaires.

This team of 29 dancers from the slums of Bhayander and Naigaon in Mumbai had journeyed from Mumbai to Los Angeles to audition for the talent show with nothing but their dreams.

On Monday, V Unbeatable found international glory after their victory in the US reality show, winning $1 million as prize money.

America’s Got Talent: The Champions was conceptualised by television personality Simon Cowell in 2018 as an extension of the original America’s Got Talent in order to include people from across the world.

V Unbeatable’s winning act Monday was also accompanied by musician Travis Barker’s solo drum performance.

Before the finale, the group received a shout-out from actor Ranveer Singh whose popular number Tattad Tattad, from the movie Goliyon Ki Rasleela: Ram-Leela, they performed to. Later, actors Akshay Kumar and Hrithik Roshan also congratulated the team on its win.

V Unbeatable first appeared in America’s Got Talent in 2019 when they came fourth. Known for their energetic movies and gravity-defying flips, the group was able to win the hearts of judges Cowell, Julianne Hough, Howie Mandel and Gabrielle Union on its first performance at the show and received a standing ovation.

Hough had then noted: “Some people are just dance crews and some people are just acrobats, you have the combination of both.”

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Unbeatable to V Unbeatable

V Unbeatable was formed in 2014 when aspiring dancers Om Prakash Chauhan and Vikas Gupta met in Mumbai. In an interview, Chauhan recalled how he ran away from home in Uttar Pradesh’s Masinagaon and came to Mumbai after completing Class 10 and did odd jobs to sustain himself.

“…I came to know about this place where some boys from the street would come and practice b-boying…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. That’s how I met Vikas,” he said.

The two soon formed a dance troupe named Unbeatable and trained children mostly from nearby slum areas. Almost all members of the team are from financially weak backgrounds. If one worked as a conductor, another sold garlands with his father, said Chauhan.

Most members also couldn’t tell their parents they were in the dance crew and would secretly spend Rs 10 to Rs 15 every day to take a rickshaw from Naigaon station to reach the practice area in Mumbai.

The group, however, disintegrated the same year it formed when Gupta died while performing a dance stunt. It was Gupta’s father who later asked Chauhan to get the troupe together again.

“I mustered the heart to gather everyone and tell them what Vikas’ father told me. Everyone had tears in their eyes and wanted to do something for him,” said Chauhan.

The name of the group was then changed to call it V Unbeatable in Gupta’s honour. They also dedicated their 2019 performance to Gupta.

One of the members has been quoted saying: “He (Gupta) was paralysed and after a few weeks, he passed away. His dream was to be on a stage like this. So, yes, we are doing all this for him.”

Journey to America’s Got Talent

Much before America’s Got Talent, V Unbeatable became a household name after their performances in India Banega Manch on Colours TV in 2017 and Dance Plus on Star Plus in 2018.

They soon went on to extend their presence on social media and shared videos of their performances. Today, they have close to 70,000 followers on Facebook, 204K followers on Instagram and more than 7,000 on Twitter.

The group’s fortunes, however, changed drastically after they got a call from America’s Got Talent in May 2019, asking them to come to Los Angeles.

Chauhan said he initially thought it was a “prank”.

The mail stated that only 20 people will be allowed in a group and they will have to refund the money for tickets and visa if they failed to clear the audition. While Chauhan managed to convince them to let him take all 29 members for the audition, persuading the families of his team members proved an uphill task.

“It was a big risk for us. A single return ticket cost approximately Rs 65,000. Along with visa expenses it would account to nearly Rs 20 lakh. When I shared the 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,” he said.

But they did take the risk and it paid off, with the crew reaching the fourth position in 2019. There has been no looking back for them since then.

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  1. they did NOT win 1 million dollars as prize money. AGT Champions season 2 prize money is just $25,000/- out of which approx 10k is deducted upfront in the name of entertainment tax. get your facts right. The V Unbeatable Dance Crew fans know they came 4th in the AGT Season 14 . only the America’s Got Talent Show boasts of prize money 1 millon dollars which by the way cannot be claimed in one down payment…..they have an option of one time full claim of $25,000 of which 10,000 is deducted as entertainment tax. if the winner wishes to avail for the million dollars option, it will be paid to the winner in installments of $25,000 each year for next 40 years!!!!! but their is a clause….again in that too! plz do your homework. V unbeatable is in crisis right now! they need work and they need support during this lickdown that is strtched for too long to sustain onself and oneselves families who are rendered jobless!😢

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