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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Wonder-dancer AJ stakes claim as India’s answer to MJ

Wonder-dancer AJ stakes claim as India’s answer to MJ

Amit Jadav, aka AJ, a Mumbai prodigy, is a singer-dancer who can leave you wonder-struck with moves that are leaves right out of Michael Jackson (MJ)’s work-book, including the moonwalk and spin. At the performance on 07 May at the Birla Matushri Sabhagar, South Mumbai’s prestigious hall, a packed auditorium found their jaws dropping when he wowed them with act after act, syncing hundreds of moves with video-projection of graphics on an LED wall, a fully-trained backing dancers’ team and audience participation too. But Amit Jadav’s journey began back in 2005, and it has taken him the best part of 17 years to get to where he is today. As he possesses a child-like face, you would not be able to guess his age at first look. And you would also be unable to guess that he comes from a Gujarati family, a community not exactly known to produce Western dancers. Incidentally, his surname has often been misspelt as Jadhav or Jhadav, but it is Jadav.

AJ came into light when he appeared on the Indian version of X- Factor, X-Factor India, telecast on the red-letter day, 30 May 2011, on Sony Entertainment Television. In the show, he sang the song ‘Chhan chhan chhanananan’ also danced to it, and reached the finals, but was heartbroken to lose in the finals. But he was showered with encomiums by the three judges, Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and even Amitabh Bachchan. Sanjay Leela Bhansali said that he is a born performer. Sonu Nigam opined that Amit's performance was the best amongst all the participants of the show. Shreya Ghoshal too was full of praise for Amit.

Amit’s journey to the top had begun quite humbly, six years earlier, when he had participated in Fame Gurukul, an Indian talent hunt show telecast on the same channel, in 2005. A second generation dancer, Amit inherited his passion for dance from his father, who is also a dancer. Then, as a young boy, he got hooked to Michael Jackson and the Indian dancing sensation, PrabhuDeva, learning a lot by watching their films and videos. Although he has been around for two decades, he still considers himself a student. On the music track, he learnt from Pandit Askaran Sharma. And to set-up a foundation in acting, his current aim, he has done a course in acting at a local Mumbai institute. Acting offers haven’t started pouring in yet, but he did miss out on one such opportunity, about which he has no regrets. In fact, is very hopeful of facing the camera very soon, even as early as the end of this year, or the beginning of 2023.

One needs to admire the technical finesse of his act. The video wall, with CGI 3D LED projection, synced so well with his live dancing that it was difficult to tell the images from the in-flesh personalities. A regular performer at wedding events, he invited a couple on to the stage and made them participate in not one but two numbers, emulating his seamless blending with the background, with the man and wife becoming an integral part of the proceedings. Needless to say, the two were thrilled to bits. As part of this ‘wedding’ act, the moving images included hearts, a flying Cupid, the Taj Mahal, flowers, sparklers, you name it. No wonder Amit is much sought after at marriage parties. For his own items, he had several men and women on screen, some of them created by CGI, and he played a game of give and take with them. One act, in which a very young ugly duckling transforms into a buxom bombshell, took a lot of people’s breath away.

But, by far, in the one hour plus that we were witness to, the pièce de resistance was his take on Michael Jackson, with the original video playing on the wall. Jackson died in 2009, when Amit must have been a young man. Keen on becoming India’s Michael Jackson, Amit is quick to admit, “I am not even 20% of him. But I don’t think that there is any act in Asia that has an CGI LED video wall, dancing and singing, all at the same time, by the same person. Having toured most of Asia, Singapore, Malaysia, etc., I can vouch for this. I am constantly evolving and updating my act, which is now in its fourth edition. If, indeed, I succeed in bringing MJ’s legacy to India as ‘AJ, the Indian MJ’, I will feel deeply honoured.”

Some years down the line, he will consider setting-up a dancing school. Till then, he is content mesmerising audiences of all ages with his incredible, tantalising, spell-binding, dual technique of dancing and singing, and king-size imAJery!

Watch AJ’s video:

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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