This teenage Indian expat holds the Guinness World Record for most languages sung in a concert

Suchetha Satish musically upholds her motherland’s motto — unity in diversity — while shattering several glass ceilings in an ode to Dubai

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Suchetha Satish with Dr Shihab Ghanem (right) and Dubai-based composer Dev Chakraborty
Suchetha Satish with Dr Shihab Ghanem (right) and Dubai-based composer Dev Chakraborty

Joydeep Sengupta

Published: Thu 9 Jun 2022, 5:30 PM

Last updated: Fri 10 Jun 2022, 5:17 PM

Suchetha Satish, 16, a student of Grade XII in The Indian High School, Dubai, is spreading the message of melody in multiple tongues. It’s a divine gift that the unassuming teenager with a coy smile seems to be blessed with from a tender age of nine.

Her father, Dr Thencheri Cheriath Satish, a dermatologist and an alumnus of the prestigious Madras Medical College in Chennai, realised her daughter’s exceptional talent by chance. “She was only nine years’ old when we figured out that she can sing in multiple languages. It was more luck by chance. A Japanese lady doctor friend visited our home in Dubai. She sang a Japanese song, which Suchetha liked very much. Later, she started singing that song on her own. When I sent my Japanese friend Suchetha’s version of the song, she and her friends were surprised by the perfect pronunciation and applauded her. That’s how it all started and soon she started singing in multiple languages on her own,” says the proud father, who has been living in Dubai for over 23 years.

Initially, Suchetha tried her hand in Arabic and Tagalog and then moved on to various other tongues as she started receiving positive feedback from native speakers. The encouragement led her to learn songs in more languages and many of which are obscure to a lay listener such as Xhosa, former South African President and Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela’s mother tongue, and Zulu, one of the 11 official languages of the rainbow nation.

Dr Satish and her loving mother Sumitha, a formidable painter and artist in her own right, have been nurturing Suchetha’s precocious talent from an early age. “She had started learning Carnatic and Hindustani music from the age of four and seven, respectively. The multilingual singing was entirely her effort. All we did was to help cross-check the pronunciation from native speakers,” says Dr Satish.

“She practices regularly and finds time to listen to all genres of music while striking a delicate balance between her curricular and extracurricular activities. Children are gifted with various capabilities. However, parents must find a way to nurture them to keep them focused and strive for the best. We’re fortunate to be the parents of Suchetha and her brother, Sushant, who is studying medicine in Chennai,” says Sumitha.

Dubai, a global melting pot, has shaped her budding career, say her doting parents. “Dubai has played a huge role in her success. The emirate is a home-away-from-home for people from over 200 nationalities and it is a melting pot of culture,” says Dr Satish.

Suchetha echoes her father while effortlessly switching over from a song in Cebuana to Bengali — Pherari mon, the lilting melting melodious number from the film Antaheen by Shreya Ghoshal, her idol and a popular playback singer, who has legions of fans in the Arabian Gulf.

“I took to multilingual singing because Dubai is a mélange of diverse cultural influences. I had little trouble cross-checking with native speakers about the pronunciation of their languages. For instance, the Global Village and Expo 2020 Dubai were all great sources of inspiration,” she says as people who are familiar with her singing are still awestruck how she could get her diction pitch perfect. Suchetha made history on August 19, 2021. Two days after her 16th birthday, she entered the coveted Guinness World Records by singing in the most languages during one concert. She sang in 120 languages for seven hours and 20 minutes at the Indian Consulate’s auditorium in Dubai on that day.

Earlier, she had achieved the world record for the longest live singing concert by a child for singing six hours and 15 minutes on January 25, 2018, and the feat was endorsed by the World Record Academy.

Though she has added 12 other languages/dialects in her repertoire, such as Khasi and Nyishi, she still cherishes how she prepared for the August 19 event. “Earlier, I had sung in 102 languages non-stop for six hours and 15 minutes to set two world records when I was only 12 years old. I was confident that I would enter the Guinness World Records. Of course, the event was like running a marathon and it required practice. In hindsight, online classes because of the Covid-19 pandemic helped my cause. It gave me more time to prepare. I’d like to thank Dr Aman Puri, Consul-General of India, Dubai, for all the encouragement and support extended to me to achieve the record,” Suchetha says as she looks forward to studying abroad on completion of her Grade XII next year.

She wants to become an international performer. “On June 19, my first original Bhutanese song, a duet with a Bhutanese male singer, Hemlal Darjee, written and composed by Lhab Tshering, will be released by the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, Ruchira Kamboj,” she says.

Suchetha is also excited about the upcoming release of an Arabic song recorded by the national award-winning composer M Jayachandran, and a Malayalam song composed by the legendary Jerry Amaldev.

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