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The story of Penn Masala, the world’s first Hindi a cappella group, started in 1996, with four very determined and driven college students — all extremely passionate about South Asian and Western music. Although a cappella — singing without an instrumental accompaniment — is a relatively new genre in India, two large-scale performances early on propelled the group to international recognition: Bhangra Blowout at Washington DC in March 1998. and the Star Screen Awards at Mumbai in January 2002.

Penn Masala will bring its unusual brand of music to Pune with a performance at Hard Rock Cafe on Sunday. Featuring Sam Levenson, Akshat Vaidya, Ram Narayan, Varshil Patel, Akiff Premjee, Rohan Murthy, Dilip Rajan, Dhruv Maheshwari, Ashwin Muthiah, Anil Chitrapu, Prashant Ramesh and Chetan Khann, the band cycled through a number of temporary names before settling on Penn Masala. “Obviously, it conveys our roots and affiliation with the University of Pennsylvania but it also captures the fusion and innovative aspects of our music in the masala,” says Levenson.

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