Sizzle This: Mid Acapella Performance Finally Exposes NRI Indianness as Cringe


Jun 24, 2023


Image Credit: AP

In ‘Sizzle This,’ The Swaddle team adds to the noise around the pop culture moment of the week. 

Penn Masala, the erstwhile beloved South Asian musical talent known for showing off their love for Bollywood through their acapella performances, is now facing an existential crisis for two reasons. First, they performed at the White House to welcome PM Modi, even as many American legislators themselves are boycotting the meet in political solidarity with Indian Muslims. Second, their performance itself was… not great. It led to many conversations about diaspora Indians’ culture of pandering, and several hot takes about whether NRI ideas of Indianness itself are inauthentic. Here are ours: 

SA: Who knew it was possible for anything to be more cringe than that whole Howdy (redacted) nonsense? The performance made me feel like I was watching a terrible version of Pitch Perfect where Anna Kendrick and gang got like so inspired after watching one Bollywood movie because it was so colourful and wow Indians do musicals that’s like so cool!  (brb listening to the Jodha Akbar soundtrack to feel something again).

HS: These guys took their bathroom singing skills very seriously.

DD: I clutched my pearls with second hand embarrassment NGL. Was an off tune sausage fest the best representation of Indian music on an international stage? For this particular event – honestly, maybe so. 

HK: The only a capella performances I will ever care about are those of the Barden Bellas – but really, who consciously thought ‘Jashn – e – Bahara’ would be the song of choice to welcome a country grappling with the worst levels of bigotry? Apolitical, apathetic, and not on pitch – this is a no. 

SM: In the words of Miley Cyrus from Hannah Montana era, everybody makes mistakes? 

AS: Here for the optimistic conspiracy theorists who suggest that Penn Masala’s lack of harmony was their political statement all along. 


Written By The Swaddle Team


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