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STAR TURN: Sona Sangeeth, a band of 13 visually impaired persons undertake a ten-hour concert to mark their 10th anniversary at Kalaivanar Arangam on Sunday. Photo: S. R. Raghunathan
STAR TURN: Sona Sangeeth, a band of 13 visually impaired persons undertake a ten-hour concert to mark their 10th anniversary at Kalaivanar Arangam on Sunday. Photo: S. R. Raghunathan

Susan Muthalaly

A band of 13 totally blind people undertook a ten-hour performance

CHENNAI: To perform music for ten hours in a day, you have to have resilience and powerful vocal chords. When you are blind, in addition, you have to have a phenomenal memory to remember the 120 songs performed.

Sona Sangeeth, a band of 13 totally blind people, on Sunday undertook a ten-hour concert divided into three sections to mark their 10th anniversary at Kalaivanar Arangam. They are best known as the troupe that provided back-up vocals for the song `Ovuru Pookkal' from Cheran's award-winning movie "Autograph."

Their repertoire consists of Tamil hits from "Sivakasi," "Majaa," "Chandramukhi" and "Ghajini." Praveena Mahesh, one of the performers, says they also sing songs from Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi, depending on where they are performing.

What started as a college band at Madras Christian College is now aspiring for worldwide acclaim as they plan to set a Guinness Record later this year by singing for the longest stretch. Govindarajan, founder of the sangeeth, says he's not sure what the existing record is, "but we are willing to even sing for 100 hours. We are prepared for that. Whatever it takes." If they average about 12 songs an hour, they will have to perform 1,200 songs, something he says they are capable of as they know several more.

Mr. Govindarajan started the organisation to create awareness about the visually challenged. "We participated in college culturals and won prizes for MCC." Prasanna Kumar and Jalal, members of the sangeeth, were with him from the inception of the unit. Prasanna is Praveena's brother, and like the others, has a day job as an English lecturer at Vivekananda College to earn his bread and butter. The jam comes from his music; he plays the mridangam, dholak and tabla. The troupe plays commercially at wedding receptions, sabhas and other public functions. And though their USP is that they are all visually challenged, they know how to get a party going. When they break into Ilaya Thalapathy Vijay's `Appidi Podu', the handful of audience that wandered to the venue suddenly comes alive with catcalls and clapping.

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