Penn Masala, University of Pennsylvania’s South Asian a cappella group, will perform to a sold-out Gaston Hall on Saturday evening.
The proceeds of student and regular tickets, costing $12 and $20, respectively, will be donated to Pratham USA, a non-governmental organization that helps improve the quality of education for children in India.
The performance, sponsored by Deloitte Consulting, SAPAN Institute, GU Jawani, Georgetown and Penn Masala, will feature 12 a cappella performers from Penn Masala as well as performances by the SAPAN Institute and Raaga Dance Company.
Formed in 1996, Penn Masala mixes sounds from Bollywood and contemporary pop music to create a unique blend. The group has over 29,000 followers on YouTube and has released eight full-length albums.
“Basically, how we got our start was that our founder had the idea to fuse Bollywood music with western pop because it’s what we grew up with,” Penn Masala member Pranay Sharma said. “Most of us are Indian Americans and we grew up with both of these vastly different genres in our lives and when we came to college, there was nothing filling this gap. That’s where Penn Masala comes in.”
Penn Masala Music Director Prashant Ramesh said that the group provides representation for Indian Americans.
“The way that we see ourselves is that we represent people who have a similar background of us, who grew up in America but are still pretty true to their Indian heritage,” Ramesh said. “We love being a voice or representing them in as best of a way as we can through our music.”
The performance, which was planned in only two months, came about after Georgetown graduates at Deloitte Consulting decided to plan a fundraiser for Pratham, a group that Deloitte has heavily partnered with for the past four years.
“As a result of the partnership, the thought process behind this event evolved from two different points,” Deloitte Consultant Silky Kadakia (COL ’12) said. “We wanted to do something that would really benefit Pratham in a big way and showcase Deloitte’s continued commitment to helping Pratham achieve its mission, but at the same time I think one of our partners and practitioners had seen Penn Masala and know their international acclaim and wanted to bring them to campus and to D.C. in order to create this fundraiser.”
The event, which sold out with around 720 seats, is one of Penn Masala’s largest venues, according to Kadakia.
“We’re all excited to be able to host it at Georgetown because Gaston is such an iconic place and I will say that this is probably one of the larger venues and audiences that Penn Masala has played for,” Kadakia said. “I know that they’re very excited and the partner organizations that are involved are also very excited.”
Kadakia said that the planning process before the event was extremely rewarding because it has given Pratham a platform to increase awareness about its mission.
“The best part about planning this so far is to see how many different types of people are interested in giving back to Pratham and coming to the fundraiser,” Kadakia said. “Probably most importantly, I think more people now know about the charity and the cause, and having that as one of the main goals and achievements has been huge.”
Deloitte Partner and Pratham member Hemal Vaidya (SFS ’95) said that Pratham is excited about the upcoming performance.
“Pratham is very excited to have this event in which Penn Masala is the headliner, and this is the first time that we are having an event by Penn Masala for which the proceeds are going directly to Pratham,” Vaidya said. “This is an inaugural event and we hope that, given the attendance that we anticipate, it’s going to be a huge hit and hopefully that we can replicate for years.”
Members of Penn Masala are eager to help Pratham through their performance, according to Ramesh.
“In recent years we’ve had the fortunate opportunity to do performances for various charity causes and we really love to do that,” Ramesh said. “The fact that our music, something we just do as a hobby in school, is able to be used for such a good cause is really amazing and humbling for us.”