By Sara Parulekar — A&E Editor
On Tuesday, March 21st, Sharon High School’s newly-founded Desi Club hosted Kanukuntla Subhash Chandrabose, a famed Telugu singer-songwriter. He is best known for his work in the action-packed Tollywood movie RRR which won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, Naatu Naatu.
The event was arranged and made possible through club leader Yashica Korada, whose parents Ramakrishna Korada and Neelima Majji have set up events with Chandrabose throughout the United States. The event took place in the black box theater, where attendees were introduced to Mr. Chandrabose, watched the Naatu Naatu performance from the film, participated in a Q&A session, and took a group picture with Chandrabose and the Oscar trophy. There was also an opportunity to participate in a $5 raffle for an individual picture. Profits were donated to Akshaya Patra, the Desi Club’s affiliated charity, and will also be used to fund future club events.
Club leader Yashica Korada said that their objective with the meet-and-greet was “for people to get a chance to learn who Chandrabose is. There are a lot of Desi kids in Sharon, but they aren’t always connected to their culture, and so we wanted to provide an opportunity for kids to get to know him and create a lot of excitement within the school.”
“The first time I met him [at the meet-and-greet], I was starstruck. I’d grown up on his songs so it was very cool to meet him,” said sophomore Nimita Nayudu.
“It was really interesting and exciting experience to get to meet him and hear him talk about his process,” said history teacher Ms. Emily Garr.
Club leader Aneesh Prasad introduced Chandrabose as, “a talented lyricist who not only wrote Naatu Naatu but also 3,600 more songs for over 850 movies in a career spanning over 25 years.”
“It’s really exciting because he didn’t just win at the Golden Globes, but also the Oscars,” Prasad added, before giving the microphone to Chandrabose.
Many asked about his experience winning the award to which Chandrabose responded, “I got only one second to speak on the Oscar stage. So I utilized that one second. I said, ‘Namaste!’”
Nayudu remembered watching the Academy Awards with her family, and Chandrabose’s win. “I was really excited, but not as much as my dad. He literally screamed and jumped out of his chair. Because for all Indians, it was like the first major award for them,” she said.
Chandrabose added, “It was a proud moment, a magical moment. 28 years into 365 days into 52 weeks into 24 hours into 60 minutes into 60 seconds of my life, all for one second on the stage.”
At the age of 13, Chandrabose began writing and singing melodies. “I learned from the library beside my house,” he said. “I used to study and read a lot of books. Besides the library, there is a temple I used to sing songs at, bhajans.” Bhajans are traditional Hindu songs praising God.
Audience members asked Chandrabos to elaborate on his songwriting process, regarding the viral sensation Naatu Naatu. “90 percent of the song I wrote within 40 minutes. And the remaining 10 percent I finished within 1 year and 8 months,” replied Chandrabose amidst audience laughter.
Chandrabose explained the themes of the song and the message he sought to convey. “The song is in the movie, but the song itself is a micro-movie. The song has a lot of meanings: courage, bravery, friendship, love, sacrifice, and victory,” he said.
“I wrote Naatu Naatu to bring out the dance,” Chandrabose added. “Naatu means rustic, nature, and countryside in its purest form. All Telugu people connect to it. So I wrote Naatu Naatu in that context.”
“There was a lot of appreciation for this win. It was very prideful for India, India in general but also South India, because there is not a lot of recognition for South Indian films and music, so this was a great opportunity,” Korada added in regard to the support behind Chandrabose’s win.
Sophomore Shruti Senthil emphasized the importance of the win for second-generation Indian Americans. “I grew up here and I was not born in India. My parents immigrated here. I didn’t have that connection to the land of India and to see that culture is represented in movies and mainstream in the USA is really awesome. It’s a way for me to connect to the land,” she added.
“When I viewed it as a white American, I viewed it as a really awesome action-musical film altogether, and I just looked at it like a film just to consume. But hearing from you saying it felt more like a deeper connection makes me realize how I have the privilege of being a white American, and I don’t even have to think about that sense of connection,” Garr said in response to Senthil.
“I think that diversity is really important because so many films have been ignored. I think the pandemic has helped with that because more people were watching TV and movies and once they consumed everything that was available and went international. For Americans to take stuff that was already popular and make it more popular was a natural progression for the international takeaway. It’s important for people to come forward with great art and be actually recognized for their great art that hasn’t always been seen as profitable or worthwhile.” Garr added.
The club leaders announced that the Desi Club has even more equally exciting upcoming events to spread South Asian culture throughout the school. “Our objective is to make more people aware of what Indian culture has to offer and to connect with people who are Desi to their cultural roots,” said Prasad. “In May, we have a Holi event coming up with the Indian Sharon Association. We’re also trying to get a couple of ideas together before Holi,” he added.
Club leader Aarav Thacker said, “We’re just trying to expand. This is the first club that I’ve seen trying to expand Desi culture in the school. I’m a junior, and I haven’t seen anything in the [school] community that celebrates Holi, Diwali, all these holidays, and I think that this club is a good start to that.”
“I’ve seen a lot of cultural clubs split off, but I feel like there was never a stable group for Desis and I feel like we have a very strong start and we can continue this,” Korada added.
We’re not only for Indians, we’re for all Desis: Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and everyone. We’re hopefully going to do something for Ramadan too,” said Prasad.
After the event concluded, the audience took pictures with Chandrabose and the Oscar trophy. Chandrabose commented, “I think I will get more opportunities like this in the future. After this, every song will be my Oscar song.”
The entire interview was recorded and can be found on the Sharon TV Website: https://tv.sharontv.com/CablecastPublicSite/show/13519?channel=1
More information on the Desi Club’s Affiliated Charity, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, can be found on their website: