'Yeh dosti...' to enthrall Obamas at presidential banquet

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 03, 2010 04:26 hrs

New Delhi: US President Barack Obama and wife Michelle might just be tapping their feet to 'Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge' when the Shillong Chamber Choir belts out Bollywood's evergreen ode to friendship to celebrate India-US ties at the presidential banquet here on November 8.

The 16-member troupe, along with their conductor Neil Nongkynrih, promise to enthrall with English and Hindi numbers at the banquet for the Obamas to be hosted at Rashtrapati Bhavan by President Pratibha Patil.

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'We have shortlisted a few songs for the programme. These include the American song 'Deep river', 'To god be the glory' and 'Ye dosti hum nahin todenge...',' Damon Lyndem, bass singer of the choir, said.

'The Hindi song signifies friendship and the purpose of our performance is to show the friendly ties between India and the US.'

The choir is credited with winning India's first gold medal at the World Choir Olympics held in July in China and came to limelight after winning on the Colors' talent hunt show 'India's Got Talent 2' (IGT).

Lyndem says they were approached for the performance 'much before' their victory on the TV show in October.

'We were approached by the ministry of external affairs, much before the finale of IGT. A few MPs came to visit us, including Milind Deora, and they appreciated our work. But the confirmation of our participation came only after we won the show,' he said.

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The troupe will reach the capital Nov 6 to meet a few diplomats to finalise the details of their performance.

'We will be meeting (Foreign Secretary) Nirupama Rao once we are in Delhi. She has great love for music and will be able to help us finalise the numbers and also the duration of our performance,' said Lyndem, also the media coordinator of the choir.

Their performance will be one among three acts planned for President Obama's welcome.

Nongkynrih, the choir's mentor, says they take the opportunity as a 'blessing' since all the members come from humble backgrounds.

'I feel privileged and proud that such unlikely candidates like us have been chosen for something so special. Everyone is very grounded and so we take it as a real blessing to sing for a person as noted as President Obama,' he said.

He hopes the team will be 'able to do justice to the event'.

Though the choir plans to showcase their prowess in Khasi folk opera and English songs, Nongkynrih is very upbeat about the Hindi number.

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'I feel singing in Hindi, the most important language of India, will be significant. But we would also like to sing in other languages and in Khasi, to show India's diversity through our performance,' he said.

The group sings in French, German, Latin, Naga dialect and in Assamese too. For the D-day, the group plans to wear a combination of regional dresses.

Obama will be visiting India from Nov 6-9.

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