By Kruti Joshi:
The current entertainment landscape can largely be identified by the domination of reality shows and YouTube.
Online platforms such as YouTube coupled with reality TV shows have provided artists with a chance to showcase their skills and talents to a large audience more than ever before.
Some of the biggest artists in the industry today started their journey on YouTube or by entering reality TV competitions. Some notable names include Justin Bieber, One Direction, Sam Smith, ||Superwoman||, and Boyce Avenue.
Closer home, there are a number of artists who’ve made a name for themselves through via these mediums, with truly inspirational backstories.
Most well known for his surreal slow motion dance style, Raghav Juyal, aka Crockroaxz, gained popularity through his stint on Dance India Dance (DID) season 3, where he finished in second place.
Juyal had not taken any professional dance classes prior to entering the reality TV scene. As a young boy in Dehradun, he would practice by imitating and learning from YouTube videos in his bedroom. His parents weren’t so eager about his unorthodox career choice pre-DID days, Juyal said.
“I used to practice alone. Whenever my father came home, I used to hide all my music instruments and open a book and act as if I was studying,” Juyal said.
“Every parent needs a proof, and I proved that. I practiced a lot. After DID, everything changed. My father and mother were happy after that and told me, ‘You do this only. This is what you were born to do.’”
Juyal’s success didn’t come overnight though. He first participated on the second season of Colors TV dance show Chak Dhoom Dhoom in 2011 as part of a crew called D-Maniax. Having arrived in Mumbai from Dehradun with little knowledge about the city, D-Maniax called the railway station floor and benches their bed, and the sky their roof.
This struggle continued until Juyal made it on to the DID stage in mid-2013.
After being eliminated from the Colors’ reality show, Juyal practiced for six months before auditioning for Zee TV’s DID in 2012 as a solo act. But, he did not make it through.
Having seen his abilities on Chak Dhoom Dhoom as a judge, choreographer Terrence Lewis, who was also a judge on DID season three, offered Juyal a job as an assistant to help his team, Terrence ki Toli.
By this time, Juyal’s audition routine, uploaded by DID on YouTube had garnered thousands of views. People contested the judges’ decision to reject him. As a response, Juyal was brought back to the show as a wildcard entry by DID grand master Mithun Chakraborty. Juyal credits YouTube and the audience for his return to the show.
“YouTube is good for all the unique talents … If they [the viewers] like your talent, they’ll watch it again and again and it’ll become viral. I would tell everyone, show your unique talent on YouTube,” says Juyal about the power of the online platform.
Upon his entry, Raghav performed alongside some of the very contestant from Terrence Ki Toli he had help train. “Terrence sir helped me a lot. He said I could come to the hall and sleep. But, then I got selected in DID. Then, everything changed.”
Juyal is one of the biggest success stories that have come out of reality TV in India. Post his DID days, Juyal had been a skipper of multiple DID franchises, helping budding dancers find their feet.
In late 2014, Juyal made his Bollywood debut in Ramesh Sippy’s Sonali Cable, starring debutant Rhea Chakraborty and Ali Fazal (of 3 Idiots and Khamoshiyan).
But, this wasn’t the first film offer he’d received.
“I was offered to be a part of the first ABCD, but I declined … My intuition was telling me, ‘Do DID and do what you came to do. Don’t be too greedy. If it’s meant to happen you’ll get films later’. And see I got ABCD2,” Juyal shares.
Juyal plays Raghu, the second lead in the Disney India movie starring actors Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor.
“Had I not done DID then, then I wouldn’t have gotten the second lead role I have [in ABCD2]. Because I did DID I got a bit more famous, and that is why I was offered the role.”
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKUtAC-dwFM]Juyal’s journey is exemplary of what is possible with platforms such as YouTube and reality TV shows that seek to give ordinary people a stage. His story could be one in a hundred or even thousands. But, the odds have never been greater.
When asked about his mantra, Juyal said: “Fame is a devil and art is an angel. Fame will come and go on its own but art will stay with you forever. Be honest to your art.“