Just like thousands across the world, who are donating money and collecting relief material for the flood-affected in Kerala and Karnataka, 26 youngsters from different walks of life came together to sing on the streets of Bengaluru over the weekend for the same cause. With basic musical equipment, numerous posters, a donation box and a generous spirit, the group performed in multiple places in Bengaluru including on Church Street, PVR in Forum mall Koramangala and on Jyoti Niwas College road on Saturday and Sunday.
The initiative is the brainchild of Shubhankar, who wanted to raise funds for the people affected by the floods in Kerala and Kodagu. Encouraged by his friend Rakshitha, Shubhankar, who is a rapper, invited people to join him in his initiative. āI thought nobody is going to join me and that I will end up sitting with my speaker and performing. But by Saturday noon when I saw quite a few folks pitching in after my FB post, Rakshitha and I were like āDude we need a name for the groupā,ā says Shubhankar.
After getting inputs from those who had expressed interest in joining hands, this ragtag group was named āThe Umbrellaā which was symbolic of bringing together different people under one banner.
Kunal Deoray, Mohammed Affan, Smita Bansode, Radhika Iyer, Arpit Tripathi, Abhishek Tiwari, Akhil, Shubhankar, Rakshitha, Mohammed Shoaib, Amar Bisht, Ashwin Bhatia, Ashwin I, Sidharth Bharadwaj, Pooja, Hitesh, Gowri, Umesh and Anirudh were the ones who were part of the effort.
āI wanted to do a fundraiser in my office, but I realised I was not getting much support there. So when I knew Shubhankar was doing this, I decided to collaborate with him,ā says Rakshitha, who does the social media marketing for the group. She then coaxed a few social media influencers to put up posters on their handles to spread the word.
The group has a poet, rappers in Hindi and English, one person on djembe, one person on cajone, two guitarists, one flautist and several vocalists. Their choice of music was simple - peppy popular numbers to beat the traffic noise and attract the crowd. They also took turns to attend to organisational activities like getting permission from restaurants, monitoring donation box, getting the posters done, contacting and connecting artistes together.
For instance, while Umesh played a large part in getting restaurants to let them perform, Radhika and Rakshitha formed an effective communication team to help spread the word.
Their initial plan was to walk around the streets and perform, they did not think ahead about getting permission from the police. Despite a number of interruptions, they managed to collect around Rs 18,000 in two days by performing indoors in cafes and other places.
āIt was quite a task to coordinate and bring everyone to one place because weād never seen each other before and were communicating for the first ever time. Then once we started performing the cops began to show up shooing everyone away,ā says Rakshitha.
āOne of them was very gentle. He made a donation and requested us to leave. So we started walking on the street like a walkathon while everyone performed and he rapped freestyle,ā she adds.
It was not just the onlookers who were kind. Even the restaurants that allowed Team Umbrella to perform were kind. For instance Paramount on Jyoti Niwas College road gave them the space to perform and provided the team with a special dinner.
The group is planning another performance this weekend where Ashwin and Shubham Roy will be joining them.