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Dubai girl Kashvi with Nora Fatehi at the IIFA night in Abu Dhabi's Etihad Arena

Bollywood icon Salman Khan sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her, while top dancer and actress Nora Fatehi cherry-picked her to dance on stage at the International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFA) held in Abu Dhabi last month.

If that isn’t enough glory, actor Shahid Kapoor — who was a backing dancer before his acting breakthrough — made her promise that she would never give up dancing. But we aren’t talking about a full-fledged adult here, but a seven-year-old young talent from Dubai who shone bright among a sea of glamorous professional actors and dancers at the glittering IIFA night.

Meet UAE’s Kashvi Majmundar — a diminutive dancing diva and a first grader from Raffles World Academy — who was plucked from hundreds of dancer hopefuls after actress Fatehi launched her #DanceWithNora contest.

Nora Fatehi with Kashvi from Dubai
Nora Fatehi with Kashvi from Dubai Image Credit: IIFA

The competition was Fatehi’s way of paying it forward to beloved UAE residents by giving someone talented a golden chance to dance with her at the IIFA awards night stage. Dubbed as the Oscars of Bollywood, the IIFA stage is usually reserved for actors and dancers who have served their time in the glitzy Hindi entertainment industry with a solid body of work.

“It was the best day of my life meeting Nora ma’am … It was unreal! I just wanted to show her my favourite moves because I love her so much and she’s so much fun. She’s the best,” said Kashvi in an exclusive interview with Gulf News.

Fatehi, her idol, famously introduced Kashvi as her precious discovery who blew her mind with her incredible dance moves.

“Today I have someone very special for you. As you know, my #DanceWithNora is a platform where we discover young talents and we give them an opportunity to show their dance skills. I have a cutie with me tonight and you guys have to meet her,” said Fatehi at IIFA, before inviting Kashvi to join her on-stage. She wove this segment in between her belly-dance routine.

Within 40-seconds, the audiences roared their approval as Kashvi danced with a confidence and matched the hook steps to Fatehi’s popular song ‘Naach Meri Raani’. The video, that has now gone viral, shows its singer Guru Randhawa and Honey Singh cheering the young girl from their front row and a chorus of clapping from her new-found adoring fans.

According to Kashvi’s mother Pinky, her daughter isn’t a formally trained dancer but began moving to rhythms when she turned a year old. Most kids that age are usually trying to learn how to stand up sturdily, but Kashvi was all about shaking her body to hits.

Kashvi — who has no industry connections in Bollywood — was born in Australia, but she moved to the UAE last year when her father got a job in this region. She’s fast becoming the poster child for dance prodigies of this region.

“I haven’t gone to a dancing school but I love watching YouTube video of Nora ma’am and I just follow her steps and I always try something new. I love dancing to Bollywood songs,” said Kashvi. Her mother also told Gulf News that Fatehi and her sister joined them backstage and hugged her before telling Kashvi to pursue her dancing ambitions more seriously.

Apparently, what you saw on stage that IIFA night was an organic and unrehearsed act.

“A day before her on-stage performance, we were told that Kashvi will dance along with someone as fabulous as Nora Fatehi … There was no time to prepare. All Kashvi did was watch Nora and do her steps everyone around her including Nora were floored by her dancing skills. Shahid Kapoor even came up to us saying that she’s so good that she will make them look really bad,” said Pinky with a laugh.

Her daughter, although young, has always gravitated towards being a full-blown drama queen and a show-stopper. Stage fright is an alien concept to her and dancing is as natural to her as breathing.

Kashvi was the darling of IIFA 2022
Kashvi was the darling of IIFA 2022 Image Credit: Instagram/KashviShiningStar

“Our daughter loves to dance and she’s a born drama queen … Previously, we had received acting offers in child artist roles for Kashvi, but it meant that we had to sign contracts that could be binding for years … But she has always been keen to try her hand in Bollywood and everybody was kind to her,” said Kashvi’s mother. This summer, her mother and Kashvi will head to Mumbai to find out more about taking a plunge into Bollywood dancing and movies.

Her videos from the IIFA night has been widely shared and they have been fielding congratulatory calls ever since. Her Instagram account, managed by her mother, jumped from 1,000 followers to more than 25,000 overnight.

Kashvi also impressed Bollywood’s mercurial star Salman Khan. According to Kashvi, it was ‘Salman uncle’ who used his clout to ensure that she got two front row seats allocated to her and her mother. For those outside Bollywood circles, it’s a matter of privilege to be seated up front and it’s usually reserved for A-listers.

“Salman uncle even sang a ‘Happy Birthday’ song for me! My birthday was a week away, but he still sang for me and he was so kind that he got me seats to watch the show because I didn’t have right badge. He was so sweet,” said Kashvi. Videos of her with actors and performers like Ananya Pandayy and Divya Khosla Kumar continue to do the rounds.

“They all gave me hugs and sang for me wishing me a great 7th birthday … I love all kinds of dancing and I am never going to give it up,” said Kashvi.

Before hitting the IIFA stage, Kashvi had participated in local dance contests and always emerged in the top bracket. In one of the dancing competitions open to dancers ranging from 5 to 15 years of age, Kashvi emerged the youngest finalists among 130 applicants.

“She has this natural flair that she was born with. She was also one of the dancers at the Expo 2020 when ‘RRR’ team Ram Charan and director SS Rajamouli visited and interacted with their fans. Ram Charan kept telling Kashvi that she was incredibly good. She has always received a lot of love for her dancing skills and so we do want to explore Bollywood because it will be a natural fit for her,” said Pinky. Like most mothers, she too is worried about the usual pitfalls of child stardom.

Kashvi with her mother Pinky
Kashvi with her mother Pinky Image Credit: Instagram/KashviShiningStar

“But when she’s so good and a full drama package, it’s not fair to keep her away from entertainment industry which takes pride in natural performers. This summer during her vacation we will be in Mumbai to explore all our options. In the past we have turned down TV serials, but now after her IIFA gig it might be a good idea to look into it,” said Pinky.

Her child, who turned seven right after the IIFAs, couldn’t agree more.

“Dancing with Nora ma’am was the best night ever and everyone in Abu Dhabi was having fun too,” said Kashvi.

Nora Fatehi at the IIFA Awards Abu Dhabi
Nora Fatehi at the IIFA Awards Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Instagram.com/iifa