Monday, January 14, 2008

The new age singers from Dharan

Situated between the plains and hills in southeastern Nepal, the beautiful city of Dharan is a major tourist hub of the country. There is more to Dharan though. It is a hotbed of fashion and musical events.

More than four decades ago, Dharan gave one of the most illustrious names of Nepali music in the form of singer-composer Deep Shrestha. Later, it also produced singers of national repute like Rajesh Payal Rai and Dhiraj Rai.

More recently, Dharan gave a new crop of artistes who made it big in the sphere of Nepali pop and rock music, including Sabin Rai, Aastha, Prashna Shakya and Dibya Subba.

Sabin Rai won hearts of the Nepali audience when he arrived onto the music scene with his soft rock numbers some years ago. It has been quite a while since he released his album Sataha 2 but he is still active in giving live concerts.

Likewise, Aastha, the pop group comprising Naren Limbu and Sudip Gurung, also tasted success when they came up with their self-titled album in 2003. Naren is from Dharan, and teamed up with Sudip after coming to Kathmandu.

A few months after the album's release, Sudip went to London and Naren has since been pursuing a solo career. After their second album Aatma, Naren recently released a new album, Artha, and plans to work together with Sudip again if things fall into place in future.

Meanwhile, Dibya Subba burst onto the music scene as a promising rock singer when he came out with his debut album, Pratha, a little over two years ago. Though his grandfather was in the British Army, Dibya's father, Kewal Subba, was a musician and his biggest inspiration.

Dibya says his father often toured various places of the country with Deep Shrestha, Dev Rana, Ishwor Gurung, Prabin Gurung and Subarna Limbu for musical concerts.

In the beginning, Dibya used to listen to songs of Narayan Gopal, Arun Thapa and Deep Shrestha and the first song he practiced was Narayan Gopal's Timile Bhaneka. During his schooldays, however, he started listening to international bands with his friends and became more influenced by them.

"I have no particular favorite genre today. I prefer any good song," says Dibya, "But I mostly listen to alternative and modern rock numbers, and try to keep myself updated."

His second album Pariwartan also includes mostly alternative-flavored songs. Dibya says that the new album is very different from his first album in terms of lyrics, presentation and other aspects and that he has tried to give something new to Nepali music.

While these young singers have gained success and popularity at national level, many other local artistes are also actively involved in Dharan's music circuit.

What makes the city produce so many musical talents?

Dibya ascribes this to Dharan's peaceful environment which is unlike the fast-paced lifestyle of Kathmandu and also to the influence of Darjeeling and Sikkim. Moreover, he adds, most youngsters from rich families here can easily get the latest instruments and gadgets from abroad.

He says that most youths in Dharan are interested in music, especially rock music, today and there is a big pool of musical talent despite lack of adequate music institutes and good recording studios in the city.

According to Pradeep Meyangbo, Post correspondent in Dharan, a couple of concerts are organized by local youngsters every month. This is in addition to the musical events organized by different companies and groups from Kathmandu. Discos and parties too have sprung up in the city in the last 4-5 years.

He says that Dharan has the audience for every kind of music or artiste, be it Deep Shrestha, Raju Lama, Sabin Lama or 1974



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