In 2005, when Keval Haria and Deepak Bedsa started an orchestra of 25 visually impaired and sighted musicians, they named their band ‘Udaan’ to symbolise how high they could fly despite their disability. Today, this Mumbai-based band is flying high.
On August 31, fourteen members of Udaan – including two handicapped dancers – will leave for a two-month tour to the USA and Canada, where they will perform their show ‘Taare Zameen Par – The Real Heroes’ in 50 cities.
The show, which Udaan has staged across India in the past two years, comprises a medley of popular Indian ghazals, hymns, qawwalis and film and patriotic songs. Udaan has, now, grown into a band of 60 members, 80% of whom are disabled.
“But our Taare Zameen Par concert is a special show featuring only visually challenged musicians” says Bedsa, 29, co-founder and a visually impaired vocalist.
Gujarati theatre artiste Nimesh Shah, the concert producer, came up with the idea two years ago when he saw physically impaired dancers performing in a television show. “I realised that handicapped artistes are often ignored. Through Udaan, I wanted to give them a chance,” said Shah who helped arrange a tour to Kenya last year.
A two-month long trip to North America, however, is the band’s biggest achievement so far. “My childhood dream of seeing the US has now come true,” said Manisha Mali, 24, a Kathak and Bollywood dancer from Kolhapur who has been dancing on one leg for the past eight years.