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Penn Masala Performs At MIT To Support Asha For Education

Anil Saigal

As part of the efforts to support Asha for Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to catalyzing socioeconomic change in India through the education of underprivileged children, Penn Masala gave a great performance at the Kresge Auditorium, MIT, on October 16, 2005 to a young audience of more of 400.

Penn Masala is a group of college students from the University of Pennsylvania who sing a medley of popular Hindi songs and hit English music, backing up their lead singers by creating all of the instrumental components with their voices.  They have gained immense popularity and fame since their founding in 1996, singing to sold-out audiences all over the nation and touring across countries such as the United Kingdom and India.

The group has produced four albums titled "Awaaz," "11 PM,"  "Soundcheck," and their latest "The Brown Album", as well as a full-length music video to the song "Chhamak Challo" (which was in the top 10 on Asia's Channel V when it debuted in 1999).  They also sang the soundtrack of the hit movie "American Desi."  Penn Masala even recorded the first-ever fully original Hindi a capella song, "Desi Ladki," written and composed by one of the founding members of the group.  

The group has exceptional talent. The blend of voices gave the group a unified sound. The classic Hindi songs like Na tum jano na hum, Aaja re tuh he re, Mayne yeh socha tha, Sona sona mera mahi sona, Vande materam and others kept the audience entertained and wanting for more.

Lokvani had a chance to talk to four members of the group, Ricky Sharma, Jay Patel, Samir Amrute and Samir Sheth.

Lokvani: How do you get students to join the group?
PM: We hold auditions in the beginning of every semester, and look around for people who are talented and willing. We have an audition process in which we put on our songs and they try blending in with the group. Many apply, we pick 4 or 5 out of about 50 – 100 who try out.

Lokvani: What has been your greatest accomplishment?
PM: We've broken and continue to break new boundaries between western and non-western music. We are pushing the limits and creating a path for other to follow. In addition, it gives us the ability to balance the two cultures.

Lokvani: Do you have any advice to the second generation Indian Americans?
PM: Yes. Go with your passion. Try out things that you have never tried before. Continue pushing the limits for there is nothing for you to be afraid of!

In addition to Penn Masala, MIT Chamak – a dance troupe of eight Indian American girls, displayed their creativity with a well-choreographed fusion dance.

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Penn Masala Team with Minali of Asha

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