As top contestants on Star Plus’s Dance Plus 2, Urban Singh Crew has been the latest talk of the town. Their mentor, Dance India Dance’s well-known contestant, Punit Pathak, has week after week showcased the crew’s hip-hop and bhangra fusion techniques using fresh concepts to continuously enthrall the judges as well as their peers and audiences around the globe. Uber Punjabi had a chance to catch up with the crew’s heart and soul, the founder, Sahaj Singh. He took time out of all the craziness on the sets of Dance Plus 2 (Mumbai) to tell us a little more about himself, how Urban Singh Crew came about, and his experience on Dance Plus 2; truly a genuine and humble personality.
Name: Sahaj Singh
Birthday 5th Nov
Life Motto: For everything that you are and everything that you do, there is always going to be someone above you, bigger than you, and someone who is below you. It’s your decision how you want to spend your life – either you look at someone who has more than you and you feel bad and try and compare. Or either you look at people who have less than you and would die to be where you are. Hence, I believe in simple living and I totally believe in being self-made.
Tell us a little bit about your family and how you got into the industry. I belong to a very simple family. My dad is from Ludhiana and my mom is from Delhi; a combination of a Hindu-Sikh family. Originally, I wasn’t into dance that much. Mom was a fashion designer at that time and very inclined towards the entertainment industry. She always knew what was new and happening and it was her that sent me for my first dance class ever. It was very odd as I was the youngest there and surrounded by only females; who were elder to me. That was my first experience with dance and when I started getting appreciation, I really started liking this art. I never knew at that time I would be taking it up so seriously, but over time my love for this art grew immensely. Hence, I took this up as my career later.
What did you do in the beginning of your career? I wouldn’t call it a career actually; I really loved the camera and loved posing for the camera. I was a child artist so have done some modeling for stills and commercials since I was about six or seven years old. My dance career actually started when I started teaching at the age of fifteen and I got so inclined towards dance because I loved the power dance gave me. I loved the power of a teacher, of an entertainer, of a performer; because even if I performed for five minutes, for those five minutes I am entertaining people and they don’t have to think about all the other problems happening in their lives. Even as a teacher, I have the power to affect lives for that one hour that everyone forgets all their stress and have a good time. Dance gives me immense power to be a part of someone’s life for the rest of their life. It’s a positive influence and I love the power dance gives to reach and affect the masses. I would call that the beginning of my dancing career; when I started teaching. Ever since then it’s been a lot of hard work. I opened my own company three years ago with Jasveen and its been going well since then. It’s called Urban Dance Center India, which is in Delhi. It’s the one stop for everything related to dance; whether you want us to choreograph, teach, or perform. We have been doing a lot of work for colleges, corporate, and events. I am still teaching and entertaining people so the career is never ending. You still keep growing, continue learning more dance, get more experience for teaching or get more projects and learn to be more creative.
How was Urban Singh Crew formed and what is the background of all the members? As a part of Urban Dance Center India, we have been doing a lot of shows and have been especially inclined towards the Punjabi industry. We have been working with the PTC channel for a little over two years now, so all the Punjabi industry film awards, music awards, and grand finales of reality shows have been choreographed by us. We have worked with a lot of singers like Diljit paaji, Honey Singh, Roshan Prince, and Jassi Gill. Being here, we realized the power that this kind of music has because everyone relates to it.
Jasveen and I wanted to do something very unique which has not been happening in the dance industry. It’s pretty much stagnant. Everyone has crews and is making groups, but what is that one different thing that is missing? We thought maybe it’s the entertainment value so we came up with this unique idea, which is not only different in our country, but throughout the world. You have seen a lot of sardaars doing bhangra, but you have not seen people doing hip-hop to bhangra music. The music our [Punjabi] industry has is international in nature with a traditional touch. The lyrics are very much traditional even if the music is international. That is what we have noticed in most of the songs and thought that this music needs to be taken to a level that it has not been taken to before.
I belong to a Sikh family and so does Jasveen. We wanted to do something that allows us to take our community ahead. I get a lot of messages from people saying that we are really appreciative and very proud of what you are doing because Sikhs are not considered to be that entertaining when it comes to urban forms of dance. In fact, I got a message a few of days back from someone saying, “I always thought I couldn’t dance because I where a turban and I won’t be selected for anything big, but because of what you guys are doing, I feel I can start all over again and you guys have inspired me”. That was the reasoning behind all of it and we wanted to come up with something that everyone can relate to.
The kind of dance we do is hip-hop and bhangra fusion which the dancer crowd loves. The second aspect is the laymen audience which does not dance. For them, the kind of music we use is amazing and they relate to it instantly. Even if my mother is sitting at home watching a dance show, usually she gets annoyed when there are a lot of stunts, jumps, and same kind of dancing happening. I know my mom will relate to this kind of music, she’s going to love the concept, and be entertained. Here I consider my mother as a layman and myself as the dancer. I would love to see the Sikh community doing a different concept with hip-hop; doing hardcore hip-hop moves to a very different kind of genre – which is bhangra. That is the entire concept – to bring up something that is different in the world and something which takes the community ahead.
All the members in my crew are not sardaars, but they have been working with me for a very long time. They all have an inclination towards Punjabi music and they all want to take this to the next level. Plus, they love what our community holds; the morals, the characteristics, the joyfulness, and the pride that our community has. Everyone is equally inclined and when we wear the turban and perform it’s feeling is amazingly powerful. Ultimately, it’s about being in the same art and we all work under the same supernatural powers; there is no difference on the basis of caste or religion. So everyone is really enthusiastic about doing this and taking it ahead.
Some people have the doubt that we wear the turban to get recognition, but that’s not the idea. This crew was not formed for Dance Plus and was formed beforehand to entertain people. We have been working with Raftaar, Manj paaji, and PTC even before Dance Plus came. At first, Jasveen and I had a very vague idea about this. Then, it did take us some time to fix this up, to get our logo done, and start working on it. It’s just been eight months and this is where we are: As top finalists of Dance Plus 2, India’s biggest reality show!
How did you decide to participate in Dance Plus 2? As I mentioned before, this crew was not really formed for a reality show, but because this crew was already formed and Dance Plus 2 contacted us to be a part of them, we decided to audition. Television is very strong medium – not only nationally, but internationally – so we thought this was a very good way to present a concept to the masses who we would have taken a lot of time to reach. Here, in a shorter span of time, we will be able to reach more number of people, show our unique idea, tell them exactly what we are planning to do with this idea and how we can take this ahead along with our community. Hence, we decided to take this up and come to Dance Plus.
Also, we got to know a lot of people are coming up with a similar concept of fusing hip-hop with bhangra and being the originators, we wanted to come on television first and show exactly how we wanted it to be before anyone adds their own twist to it and turns it into something else. We also wanted to challenge ourselves as a crew and see how creative we can get with stage and prop utilization, with concepts and costumes look and feel. This was one of the best platforms to creatively build ourselves so when we are back from here we can entertain the public being better artists and better entertainers than what we were before this show.
What has been your favorite moment so far from DP2? This entire journey has been very memorable. There has been so much hard work, sleepless nights, injuries, and what not in this entire process. The kind of concepts we have done; there a lot of things we did for the first time – a steady camera act or jumping from sixty feet. It’s been crazy.
We did a Battle of Saragarhi, which was a battle of 21 sardaars fighting against 15,000 Afghans which went viral online and on Indian television because it was the first time it had been depicted on the Indian television. That act was historic and was the one that made us the first crew to enter the Top 6 of Dance Plus 2. That was one of the biggest moments in my life. Our next act is quite similar. Everyone mocks Sikhs over the 12 o clock incident. They don’t know what really happened at that hour and just say “Bara bajgaye sardaar pagal hojayega”, but they don’t know the reason of sardaar being pagal. We are going to show that and I am sure it is going to be one of the most proud moments for Urban Singh Crew to be able to represent the community. We are going to show the reason behind it, just like we showed how the Battle of Saragarhi took place. These two moments will be very special for us.
Plus, there are other celebrity moments that have been special to us. Hrithik Roshan, the heartthrob of India, wore the turban and did bhangra with us. We also did bhangra with Prabhu Deva sir, who is the God of dance in our country. It’s been amazing and we had a lot of great moments with celebrities like Jacqueline, Varun Dhawan, and more. There have been lot of memorable moments, but the most proud and amazing outcome of this show is the love and respect we have gotten from people. It’s tremendous and maddening. Every time I open my social media accounts on Instagram or Facebook, or even the crews’ account, the messages are so overwhelming. They are from all around the world – from UK, Canada, Dubai, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Nepal; it’s everywhere. I am so overwhelmed and the reach has been so good. It’s a proud moment that our work has reached so many people and it’s affected so many lives. I get messages from people like – “my entire family sits and watches Dance Plus 2 only because of Urban Singh Crew”. The amount of happiness we are giving out is fulfilling our purpose; which was to entertain people. I believe in a deeper meaning of life and I feel the power of an entertainer is amazing. I might just be able to entertain people and be able to live in their hearts forever. Which is way deeper than living a luxurious life which is living alone with yourself in huge bungalows with guards. It’s a better life to live in everyone’s heart so that you are immortal. I always wanted to have that kind of a name and do that kind of work where I stay in people’s heart forever and seeing the outcome makes me feel special. Jasveen and I always wanted to work like this and we will continue to work like this.
What has been your favorite performance so far on DP2? I will be very honest. I think every performance has been my favorite. Every time we setup a new act it becomes my favorite because we have tried to be unique and tried to come up with something different every time. We have become chefs, ghosts, warriors, soldiers, and party freaks. Now we are going to come into different characters for the next act. You must watch; its going to be crazy as we have turned ourselves into completely different characters in both the acts that we are going to do next. It’s totally been amazing and every performance has been a new concept. It’s a new difficulty and a new challenge; it’s even better than what we did last time. I love every performance that we do because there is a lot of heart and soul in it.
Who do you think is your toughest competition? I think everyone is unique and the kind of styles we do are completely different. The kind of people who relate to us would not be the same who relate to a B-boying crew; everyone is competition and everyone is not a competition. What Urban Singh Crew and I as a leader try to do is perform better than last time; something more unique, more difficult. Technically, I would consider our own selves as our competition. I am not trying to be diplomatic, but if we start thinking about competition, everyone is unique in their own way. The competition has been immense since the beginning. The first audition we gave in Delhi was with hundreds of thousands and then we gave another one with hundreds of people. Then, we got into thirty, then twelve, then six, and now we are fighting for four. The competition has been tough ever since and to be honest, we compete with ourselves and that is the motto of the crew. Be satisfied with yourself, be better than last time, be happy with what you are doing and everything else will follow.
How has it been working with Punit and what have you learned? Working with Punit has just been amazing. He’s just a like a big brother to us, a friend, and like family, too, along with being a teacher. We not only learn choreography, but concepts, and leadership. The way he talks, guides, and peps us up; he has perfect leadership qualities and he’s one of the best leaders I have seen. He is amazing with his ideas and knows how to utilize the group’s strengths into the best concept to make it very different and interesting.
I would say Punit sir is not just a choreographer, but also an amazing director. His camera usage, visualization, and imagination is one of the best I have seen in this industry. He is very humble, down to earth, and approachable as well as very understanding. Even if you have a small problem like a common cold, he would be worried about that. He’s been amazing in this journey and the entire crew looks up to him as a mentor and at the same time we are very comfortable with him in sharing everything about our lives with him as a friend. It’s a perfect combination of a teacher, a friend, and a guide that you can have.
Who is your favorite judge? It would be Punit paaji because the way he studies the act is completely different from the others. It’s not just about dancing, its about his visualization, the camera usage, and everything. I think he tries to decipher the deeper meanings in the act. I find his feedback very genuine and elaborate; very nicely put across. I think he’s a very genuine judge and his comments come straight form the heart. I find that I relate to his comments a lot because I feel the same as to what he says. So, I really connect more as a judge with him than anybody else.
If you could pick anyone to visit DP2 and watch you perform, who would it be? Obviously, I would want my parents and my family or the entire crew’s family along with Jasveen and her family; would be a generic answer. But, if you ask me in terms of a celebrity, then, I would love for Diljit paaji to come and watch it. He is the finest representative of the Punjabi industry whether it be his music, his songs, or him as an actor. He is a lovely person and I have worked with him. Otherwise, I would love Raftaar paaji and Manj paaji to come because they are the ones that gave us the first break and it will be amazing if they both can come and watch us perform to see how well their crew has done; how proud they would be to watch us perform.
Jacqueline wants to be in a Punjabi film with you, will you take up on her offer? It was extremely generous of Jacqueline to say that and of course, who wouldn’t want to take up an offer with an already existing Bollywood celebrity. It took me a lot of time to sink in that she actually mentioned something like that and obviously, it would be of utmost honor to work with such an established actor.
Regardless of if you win DP2 or not, where do you see your career headed and what do you want to do next? I am sure the work will improve after this and we have reached the masses so will have the power to entertain a more number of people since people know us. People who likes will want to see us more, but irrespective, we would like to go with the flow and keep coming up with different things where we can keep reaching more people and entertaining like never before. There are no hard concrete plans. Urban Singh Crew is just focusing on the show right now and we are working hard to get ahead as possible. We will see whatever the future holds; it will happen by itself after the show.
Favorite Punjabi Movie: I find them very fun to watch and wouldn’t be able to name one favorite. Nowadays the industry has become really good. May it be Jimmy Shergill’s Hero, Gippy Grewal’s Faraar , or Yaar Anmulle, a film about friendship, or even Punjab 1984. All of these are of different taste and all of them are too good. I think the Punjabi film industry is really evolving and PTC Motion is coming out with great pictures like Disco Singh which very entertaining.
Favorite Punjabi Actor: Diljit veerji, of course.
Favorite Punjabi Actress: Neeru Bajwa, shes one of the best the industry has. One of my friends, Shruti Sodhi, who is new and I worked with her in a commercial. I know how well she performs and is amazing, too.
Favorite Punjabi Singer/Song: Favorite Punjabi singers and songs, I cannot name one. I am a mad mad Punjabi music freak! I listen to everything. May it be hardcore traditional from Ranjit Bawa to Jazzy B’s hip-hop music to Dr. Zeus’s music to Jassi Gill’s amazing mixture of the two. Babbal Rai to Diljit paaji, to Gippy Grewal’s pop music. Harsimran, Mankirat…anybody; you name the singer or the song and I have heard it! I am a big big fan of Punjabi music. I love it’s international qualities with traditional roots and this is one of the biggest reasons Jasveen and I want to take it ahead to make it international not only musically, but also dance.
Favorite Punjabi Food: Of course who doesn’t like the Butter Chicken with excess butter and some butter naan!
Uber Punjabi wishes Urban Singh Crew best of luck on Dance Plus 2!
Interview and Article By: Uber Punjabi