SCHOOLBOY dancing sensation Vidyuth Menon has returned to Bahrain to a hero’s welcome after starring in one of the world’s most celebrated reality TV competitions.
The Asian School pupil took time away from his classroom to grab the opportunity of shining under the spotlight in the Super Star Junior Dance Competition aired on popular Indian television channel Amrita.
Viewers watched in awe every week from Monday to Friday and thousands of Batelco customers here in Bahrain cast their SMS vote for Vidyuth, 11, who attracted millions of fans in India too as he battled into the semi-finals.
Vidyuth, was one of only 15 children selected from more than 7,000 worldwide entries, and said: “I just love to dance!
“This was an incredible experience and so exciting and I’ve made so many new friends.”
His proud mum Priya, from Hoora, said: “The competition has helped him immensely to overcome his shyness and has brought about a fresh ray of confidence – so I am very thankful.
“It was not one of the easiest ventures we have ever done as we had to travel up and down to India twice. After the first audition which was in August last year, we came back.
“He was selected for the next stage and so we returned in September for rounds two and three of the audition process.”
After the auditions were concluded and Vidyuth was finally selected his family were forced to make some serious decisions. Fortunately Vidyuth’s school permitted him to take a six-month leave of absence but his mum had to resign her position as a maths teacher at Al Noor International School so she could take care of her only son.
Priya explained: “Our jobs are very important but I knew that I could come back and look for a new one. Vidyuth’s chance was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For the sake of our children we sometimes need to make compromises and sacrifices.
“I am glad I made that choice, otherwise I am sure I would have lived to regret not going.”
The pair returned to the kingdom after spending six months back in India.
Although the family live in Kerala where the show was staged their hometown was actually 440km from the set.
They decided to rent a house close to the studios rather than face a daily gruelling train trek.
“Both of Vidyuth’s grandmothers came to stay with us. It was quite demanding … every 10 days there was a shoot for two days.
“This meant choosing two songs, learning the steps, arranging the costumes and preparing for the filming which began at six in the morning.”
Also assisting the family was Jyothi Raj, a well-known dance teacher from Bahrain, who is Vidyuth’s trainer. Priya explained: “He actually came to India and stayed with us throughout the competition – all at his own expense – to be able to help Vidyuth.”
During the adventure Priya was often overcome by the pressure but Vidyuth’s excitement and energy helped soothe over the periods of anxiety.
Priya said: “There were times when I wanted to just leave everything and come back home to Bahrain but my son would tell me not to worry.”
His talent and optimism proved decisive as he was the only contestant not to fall in the ‘danger zone’ – a part of the competition where the participant achieved low audience votes and marks.
In the competition, the selection process was done in two ways. While the judges gave them the marks and comments, the real fate of the dancer rested with the viewers and audience.
Text messages were the main source of voting a favourite dancer and after every performance, the number of votes were counted for each of the contestants.
With Vidyuth’s participation in the competition, the family requested the channel organisers to also accept votes from Bahrain, as this was indeed his home.
Vidyuth’s father, Arun Menon, commercial manager, African and Eastern, had the pressure of coping with the stress all alone in the kingdom.
He said his son had attracted a huge following of fans, adding: “He has one particular supporter living in Saudi who still regularly calls up! He is a dancer himself and has been keeping a track of Vidyuth’s performances since the very beginning.
“There are also two girls – Mary and Lachchu students of the Indian School who regularly keep in touch. They even created a community name ‘Vidyuth the Super Dancer Junior’ on the online friends networking site – Orkut!”
The youngster has faced a few embarrassing moments of fame too. Once he received a greeting card addressed to ‘Vidyuth of Class Five, Asian School’ from an Indian admirer.
Vidyuth also has a growing number of dance fans in Bahrain where he has been performing ever since he returned from India.
Priya said: “Recently during a show organised by the Indian Ladies Association for the Children and Mother’s Welfare Society, Vidyuth performed to an audience of Shaikhas.
“After the performance one lady came and gave him a small packet and congratulated him saying the society’s president sent her regards and a small gift.”
The gift, BD100, helped him purchase a collection of games for his Play Station which is his passion alongside dancing.
Vidyuth also performed at the May Queen 2008 event as part of his dance group – the Rap City Boys. The group was formed by his trainer and consists of six dancers.
His love of dancing began at an early age when he watched his mother give dance lessons at home.
Priya said: “When we first moved to Bahrain I used to hold dance classes at home and he would silently watch me before running to the sitting room and doing his own dance.”
Since his small screen performances, Vidyuth has been approached by TV soap opera producers in India who have expressed an interest in creating a part for him.