ALL HAIL THE MELODY KING
Nati Kaji The music lives
By Pawan Neupane
More than any words, Nati Kaji's music itself speaks volumes about the stature of the late composer and singer. “Aajai ra raati” in Narayan Gopal's voice, “Phoolako thunga” in Tara Devi's voice, “Para laijau phoolharu” sung by Prem Dhoj Pradhan, “Yasto pani hundo raichha” sung by Fatteman Rajbhandari, “Sapana bhulaai saaraa” by Yogesh Vaidya and “Timi aaunchhyau bhanne” in Udit Narayan's voice - are only a few of the musical gems that explain why Nati Kaji is known as the melody king of Nepali music.
A complete departure from the musical tradition before him, Nati Kaji enriched Nepali music with folk-based and mellifluous creations. And just as his compositions, equally sweet was Nati Kaji in person, something which his contemporaries agree to unanimously.
Had he not succumbed to various ailments four years ago, the master composer would have been celebrating his 82nd birthday next week. We at City Post pay tribute to the maestro, as a few of his generation and juniors recollect the genius and the person that Nati Kaji was.
Kiran Kharel, Lyricist
Nati Kaji appeared on the Nepali music scene after 1950. Before that there was almost a void in Nepali music, but he and Shiva Shankar gave heart-touching and quality music to Nepali listeners.
Like natural beauty lures a tourist, the same was the effect of Nati Kaji's music on his audience. His compositions are special because of the melody and folk ambience they possess. He has made an immense contribution to giving a modern shape to Nepali music.
During my acquaintance with him, I found three specialties in Nati Kaji as an individual - tolerance, friendliness and sensitivity. I never saw him get angry bear ill will towards anyone during the four decades that we were together.
We worked together on around a hundred songs, among which my favorites are “Kati pyaasi chha jindagi bidhwako siundo jasto” sung by Yogesh Vaidya and “Ek choti kaandhalai mwaain khaane dhoko baanki chha” sung by Tara Devi.
Yogesh Vaidya, Singer
I have sung 300-odd songs, and 80 percent of them were composed by Nati-dai. “Kati pyaasi chha jindagi”, my first song recorded at Radio Nepal, was also set to music by Nati-dai.
The two of us were like brothers, like family. We used to meet regularly at home and at programs. In those days, artistes from the music fraternity also used to meet at Radio Nepal and discuss literature and music. We had also formed a group called Akhil Nepal Sangitik Sangh with Bachchu Kailash as chairman and Pushpa Nepali as vice chairman. We used to go on picnics twice a year. There was great camaraderie between us then.
Nati-dai and I shared a strong bond because we respected each other, and there was no feeling of being big or small. As he was much older than me, I was courteous accordingly, and he reciprocated with equal affection. The greatest quality in Nati-dai was his soft-spoken nature.
As for his contribution to Nepali music, I think it is the simplicity, melody, originality and folk flavor in his compositions. His songs possess soulfulness as well as depth. He worked with everyone from senior lyricists and singers to young beginners, and that shows his multi-dimensional personality.
One of my favorite songs that we collaborated on is “Sapana bhulaai saaraa” that earned me recognition among the younger generation too. Besides that, I like “Yahan ek man chha eklo lagan chha” and “Dherai bhaisake ki jeevanma peeda” written by Ishwar Ballabh. “Aunsiko raat, e jun e tara gaidinu” written by Ram Man Trishit, “Aankhaima raat gali sheetma tara dube” penned by Ratna Shumsher Thapa, “Mero aansuma nahaasne” by G Shah and the bhajan “Preeti garera sabma chhodun” written by MBB Shah are my other choices.
Meera Rana, Singer
I started singing in 1965, and it was a song written by Bishwaballabh-dai and set to music by Nati-dai that got me the first prize at Radio Nepal in 1971.
In 1975, I joined Radio Nepal where Tara Devi-didi's and my job was to sing. And as soon as the studio became vacant, Nati-dai used to teach us songs there. He was also a friend of my father, so I had a lot of respect for him.
Whenever he had time, I always saw Nati-dai engrossed in music. I never saw him speak loudly or harshly, and it was always a pleasure to sit down and work with him.
Nati-dai's music was of a very high level and carried with it his own, unique style. I've sung many songs, more than 150, that Nati-dai composed. Among them, my favorite is “Na Asaar na Saaun kina baadal chhayo”. It has such flowing music.
Deep Shrestha, Singer
Before Nati Kaji, there was a trend of Hindi-style songs and Nepali music composers were heavily influenced by Hindi music. That had changed during the time of Master Ratna Das Prakash, but it was Nati Kaji's music that brought a sweet, melodious feel to Nepali music.
Nati-dai's compositions are very melodious and of a very high quality. That's why he is called the melody king of Nepali music. He opened up a new avenue in Nepali modern music with his creations. Also, he was a good singer besides being a great composer.
I had sung a song “Najaau chhodi yo desh” written by MBB Shah and set to music by Nati-dai, and he had even let me make changes to an antara in that song. There were very few musical instruments back then, and Nati-dai used to accompany us on the organ too. He had great affection for us.
It is because of him that the radio in Nepal has the status it has today and people always like listening to it.
Source: Kantipur Online