Up in the air: Manik Paul with the India’s Got Talent trophy
I will buy a house in Mumbai with the prize money (of Rs 50 lakh),” were India’s Got Talent Season 6 champ Manik Paul’s first words to t2 on Sunday. A self-taught gymnast, the 22-year-old who hails from Assam’s Barpeta but has made Calcutta his home for the last three years, wowed the nation through the course of the Colors talent hunt show with his jaw-dropping and gravity-defying ariel dance acts. He was crowned champion on Saturday night. A t2 chat with the Salt Lake boy who now lives in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park.
Congratulations! What was the winning moment like?
My mind went blank for two minutes. I didn’t know how to react and respond to the situation. Honestly, I wasn’t able to come to terms with the fact that I had won. I couldn’t believe that it was real. It is a huge achievement for me. My mother, who lives in Assam, is very happy.
What was your most memorable moment on the show?
I am a big fan of Remo (D’Souza) Sir. When he had come to promote ABCD 2 on the show, he was highly impressed with my contemporary aerial act on Har kisi ko nahin milta (from Janbaaz). He came to the stage to hug me! That was my best moment from the show.
From the very beginning, the three judges (Karan Johar, Kirron Kher and Malaika Arora Khan) have always appreciated me through the show’s four-month journey.
Did the kind of talent competing for the title make you nervous at any point?
Yes, seeing the competition, I had once become very nervous. But after a while, I regained control and went on with my performance.
How did you become an aerial gymnast?
I had a dream to work for the Calcutta police or the Indian Army. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get through. Since childhood, I have always been physically fit. I had even participated in Takkar, a talent-based show on Rupashi Bangla, where I had shown off my martial arts skills. The show was produced by Bumbada (Prosenjit). Sudarshan Chakravorty (dancer and choreographer) spotted me on that show and asked me to join his dance group. I stayed in his house for three years and trained. After that, I came to Mumbai and took some lessons in Malkhamb (a Maharashtrian gymnastic form). Then, I participated in Dance India Dance Season 3, where Terrence Lewis (dancer and judge) spotted me and gave me the opportunity to train under him, without charging a fee. I worked with him for two years and got a diploma in dance. I perform at various shows and travel to many cities with Terrence Sir’s dance troupe.
What’s next for Manik?
I want to become a choreographer in Mumbai. Since I am from Calcutta, I also want to work in Tollywood. Many directors from Calcutta have sent me messages after my win.
Did Manik Paul deserve to win India’s Got Talent?