Voyage Of Voice
Shrestha enriches the anthology of Nepali music with hundreds of everlasting and melodious modern and patriotic songs
By THAKUR AMGAI
He is not only a popular singer, but also a sportsman. He would have probably reigned the heart of sports lovers had he not started singing. An unplanned journey brought Deep Shrestha this far in the music industry, but still he does not fail to exhibit the traces of being a sportsman.
"My body is aching too much today, I think I played too much this morning." This was the first thing he told this scribe early one afternoon as he was basking in the sun within the premises of Royal Nepal Academy (RNA) during his lunch break.
He has now given up playing as a professional. Trapped in the tight schedules of working as an assistant music director at the RNA, Shrestha hardly has time for composing and recording songs, let alone pursuing sports.
"I gave up playing football a longtime back, but play badminton occasionally to keep myself fit," says a one-time regional level player.
Shrestha, who hails from the beautiful eastern city of Dharan, is among the few senior singers who were equally popular as players in their youths.
However, his inclination towards music has benefited the Nepali audience and the music industry. Minus Shrestha's contribution, the anthology of Nepali modern and patriotic songs would have not been as rich as it is today.
Shrestha formally started his musical career in late 1960s, the time, which is deemed as the golden era of Nepali modern music. Before this he used to perform in cultural programs and other functions locally organized in the eastern region. He has been popular among the audience since the very beginning of his musical career.
'Ma Paththarko Devata Hoina, Todiyara Jodine'
This song, whose theme translates to 'I am not a stone idol that can be broken and carved', was recorded at the obsolete studio of Radio Nepal about three and a half decades ago. The song-with the same old recording quality- is still widely popular and will remain popular in the years to come. Interestingly, this was the first song that Shrestha had composed and recorded.
The musical family background could have been one privilege that Shrestha got. Both his parents, Ustad Jaya Narayan Shrestha and Indira Shrestha were popular in the eastern region as singers. This legacy instilled an inclination and nurtured the flair for singing in junior Shrestha.
He got an opportunity to officially pursue this natural flair when a theatre team from Dharan came to Kathmandu to stage a drama in Rastriya Nachghar to a group of elite audience including Late King Mahendra. Shrestha was given the role as a singer. Shrestha's melodious voice and well composed music held everyone spellbound. King Mahendra was so impressed that he allowed Shrestha to record as many songs as he wished. In 2025 (Bikram Era), when even established singers had to wait for many days to get a date to record songs in Radio Nepal-the only recording studio then, this was a great opportunity to the new artiste.
"I then recorded six songs including 'Ma pattharko devata hoina'," reminisces Shrestha. The songs instantly became very popular.
In the subsequent years, he would come to Kathmandu once in a year and record a few songs and go back to his hometown. After 2028, Shrestha started participating in the Nationwide Music Competition, which led him to win the first prize in vocal later in 2030, when he had sung the song 'Bidhawako Sindoorko Rahar'.
He was active in the field of music for another decade. Then, slowly, Deep Shrestha began to stop singing. Shrestha was busy with his own official work and in his own words, 'did not feel like recording new songs.'
Time moved on. The Nepalese music industry expanded and started to witness professionalism. Technology improved. And so did Shrestha's feelings. The singer, who had a habit of singing in old technology in his good old days, was fascinated by the vast improvement in technology. Unlike in the previous days, now he could sing his songs in track system, complete it in as many sittings as he wished and the overall quality of the recordings were much better. He decided to sing again and bring out an album.
The audience got a whole collection of new songs from Shrestha in the album 'Drishti' whose song 'Ma ta door dekhi ayan' and 'Har rat sapanima', among others became very popular. However, some audience appreciate Deep Shrestha's old songs more than what came out recently with a flavor of improvised technology. For music, it seems, improved technology is not always a boon. Still, Shrestha stands out in the field of Nepali modern music for his unique style in singing and commands a lot of respect and love from Nepali audience.
Whether modern or patriotic songs, Shrestha's contribution to Nepali music cannot be exaggerated. At a time when, there is a dearth of patriotic songs, Shrestha has sung dozens of meaningful patriotic songs. The song below recorded recently speaks out the contemporary concern of all Nepalese.
'Har Bakhat Harek Kurama Dhyan Hos Nepalko
Jun Mulukma Jaun Hami Man Hos Nepaliko'
The song, written by poet Shambhu Prasad Dhungel many years back, was sung nationwide in the Peace Music Rally last year.