In Conversation With Penn Masala - The World's First Hindi A Cappella Band

Posted on 19 January, 2016 by Team Wishberry

Penn-masala Penn Masala is the world’s first and premier hindi A Cappella Group born at the University of Pennsylvania in 1996. It was formed by a group of young students who celebrated music from both Eastern and Western cultures, with a Bollywood twist. The band has performed for President Obama, the prestigious IIFA Awards, and also featured in the very popular a cappella inspired movie Pitch Perfect 2. Penn Masala With Obama

We absolutely love how you’ve incorporated Bollywood & Hollywood music through a cappella! How did the idea come about?

Chetan: The idea originally came from four Penn students, all of who founded Penn Masala back in 1996 in their dorm room. They came up with the idea through a desire to represent their culture and background in a novel manner—a cappella was the medium of choice! We’re actually the first group in the world to incorporate the unique sounds of the Indian subcontinent into a cappella, and we’ve been consistently been at the forefront of South Asian - Western fusion ever since.  

Your video 'Evolution Of Bollywood Music' received over 17 lakh hits. Did you expect it to go viral when you shot it?

Chetan: To be honest, we don’t ever really expect for things to “go viral”, because it’s kind of an arbitrary goal! When we shot the video, we wanted to just try something new and experiment with a video that we thought both our generation and our parents’ generation would connect with. Luckily, we found something our fans really connected with.

What all challenges did you face while creating your channel? And, how did you tackle them?

Chetan: There were a lot of challenges that we faced while building our YouTube and social media presence. First and foremost, our alumni were incredibly resilient and did some great work prior to the current group’s run. They sold thousands of albums, made great music, and laid the foundation for our group's success. More recently, we’ve dealt with the challenges of changing a lot of our content. We’re more video based than ever before, and we’ve learned a lot through that process!  

So far, you've been touring in the States. Any plans to perform live in India?

Chetan: We would love to tour in India at some point in the near future! In fact, do keep an eye out for details — we’re hoping we can come soon.   

What's next in store for Penn Masala?

Chetan: This year, we’re celebrating our 20th anniversary, which is a HUGE deal for us! 20 years is a long time for any group, and we want to make this year a special one for our fans. We’ll be releasing a lot of new songs, videos, and other content, so watch out for a special year ahead! 
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