10. Vicky & Aakash Dhangar

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10 PEOPLE OBAMA SHOULD MEET

Vicky and Aakash Dhangar

20 & 17 Mumbai

Moving along Aakash (left) and Vicky
Moving along Aakash (left) and Vicky
Photo:  Apoorva Guptay

OBAMA SHOULD follow his instincts: American soft power goes much further than the hardware. Vicky and Aakash, for instance, credit America with putting a new bounce in their step. The dance-form known as B-boying, adopted by young black and Latino rebels living in the South Bronx during the 1970s, has given these boys of middle-class Dharavi a swagger that they could only dream of. Finally, they feel like they are ‘doing something different’ with their lives. It all started with a live demonstration by New York-based Netarpal Singh (aka Hera), whose organisation Tiny Drops teaches Mumbai’s ragpickers, electricians, tailors and carpenters the art of ‘breaking’ out. “We had seen music videos and always thought these guys rocked. Watching this documentary about the origins of B-boying in America left us dumbstruck. When Hera performed, we thought that we might be able to do the same thing — even though we might break a few bones in the process,” laughs Aakash. Terms like ‘toprock’ (upright dancing and shuffles) and ‘freeze’ (still poses that punctuate beats and end routines) are now part of their everyday parlance. B-boying has also given them hope for a better life. While their father (a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation employee) dreams of raising his sons to be engineers, they would rather dance. “It keeps us positive and creative. If the Americans can make careers out of B-boying, so can we!” says Vick.

Aastha Atray Banan