Nepali Music: Vibrant and Growing

nepali folk music video shooting

From the shooting spot of a music video for a folk song Pic by Suraj Kunwar

One sector that flourished in Nepal even when the country was going through the political turmoil in the last decade was without doubt the Music. No matter what, we sang and listened to one new song after another that young and creative musicians offered us. Unlike Nepali film industry that is struggling to get quality audience, the reach of songs in Nepali society is vast: people from the street to the palace enjoy Nepali songs with equal enthusiasm. [Contrary to this, majority of Nepali film audience comes from lower middle class.] Rap, rock, pop, folk, hip hop, remix you name it and you can find songs in Nepali market composed by the young and innovative Nepali musicians. The folk songs have invaded urban area, previously dominated by the Hindi songs, and the new genres of music have kept Nepali youths hooked up. It wouldn’t be hype to say that music has transformed the urban youth culture. Very few iPods sell in Kathmandu markets but make no mistake people are listening to all kinds of songs. English songs are also popular among youths in urban Nepali society and yes Hindi songs (especially from Bollywood films) are there but they are facing tough competition from the quality songs and music videos offered by the Nepali music industry.

It’s definitely a small industry but it’s growing rapidly and an unknown boy or a girl can become a celebrity overnight. Nepali public has enjoyed their arrival one after another. Just yesterday there was an impressive award ceremony (Hits Music Award 2063) was organized in Kathmandu that recognized the contributions made by some of the musical stars in the past year.

As the private television stations came into existence in the later half of the last 10 years, the phenomena of music videos came with a bang. MTV hasn’t come in Nepal (and can’t be expected any time soon) but for Nepalese audience the music was no more a thing to be listened, it was something to be seen. For the growing music industry, music videos also turned out to be a great marketing tool to sell the audio cassettes and CDs. For singers, music videos were a magic means of being a celebrity: if you are appearing in the video, you are on your way to become a star.

As a reporter responsible for overseeing the Arts and Style section of Kantipur daily it is part of life for me to meet singers, actors and other celebrities of Nepali society. Two weeks ago I decided to invite three of the most happening singers in current Nepali musical scenario- Jabeek, Rajeev Lohani and Babu Bogati -to talk about their new life and stardom. One song was enough for Jabeek to be a star where as the Baleko Aago from his first album tune made Rajeev a popular singer. Babu’s first album that came to market five years ago was a flop but he learned some hard lessons and hit the TV screens last year with the music video of the song titled Sannani…lauri le thyakka thyakka and became popular even among children.

Here is the story that appeared on the front page of Kosilee, the weekly supplement of Kantipur, today. Here is the summary of the story in English.

6 thoughts on “Nepali Music: Vibrant and Growing

  1. Suman ji,

    Thanks for your words. I am not sure if my writing style is “very good” but I would be happy to share whatever I know. I am also in the process of learning how to write better and with every story I find myself facing a challenge: how to make my stories readable so that people won’t throw the newspaper in the middle of reading. Keep on writing!

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  2. A general point: I think everyone should loud the massive growth of journalism and journalist in Nepal in past decade or so. However, there is still a lot to do in terms of professionalism and ethical conducts of writing news and printing of images. Nepali media and journalists would be better off better promoting what national culture more (and copying less from Europe). Currently, we seem to be rapidly loosing many of ‘our’ identity indicators.
    BRAJ (http://www.nepalsathi.ws/)

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  3. Dear Dinesh Wagle,

    I enjoy your posts very much. My husband and I are film-makers from New York and we are coming to Kathmandu in January to make a short film about music in Nepal. We are particularly interested in folk music but also in pop music and music videos, and how a traditional song can become a pop music hit. We would love to meet with you and talk about all this.

    Best wishes,
    Mary Harron

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