Anju Panta and her dreams that came true
KATHMANDU, April 6:
Na birsen timilai, na payen timilai
Bina artha dilma sajayen timilai.
Be it in mobile phones through CRBT (Caller Ring Back Tone) access, in personal computers, or even in iPods, many people are listening to this number since last month.
And in restaurants to clubs, in private vehicles to public transportation, this ghazal-like track is played almost everywhere. It seems like everyone is madly in love with its music, which is composed by Mahesh Khadka, and its lyrics written by Bipin Kiran. Not to miss the voice behind this popular track, Anju Panta needs a special mention. Not just because her song has been there in the Top 10 lists of Republica Smash Hits but Anju Panta also is the most sought-after singer in the playback studios of Nepal today.
Approximately 5’ 2” tall, fair, and with a smile that’s worth more than a million silver Rupees, Anju, the promising playback singer on Nepal’s silver screen now, sat for a tête-à-tête with myrepublica.com at Purple Studio, where she was recording her voice for an upcoming Nepali film.
Not everyone’s childhood dreams come true. But it did with Anju, who always wanted to become a professional singer.
All that she remembers singing when she was very young were Aruna Lama’s “Pohar saal khusi phatda” and Lata Mangeshkar’s “Naam Gum Jayega”.
“I loved singing these two songs. But I never thought I’d one day be singing on my own to real music composers’ tunes. It’s all like a dream come true,” Anju beams as she shyly looks at her better half, Manoj Raj, also a playback singer, who was there with us throughout the interview.
She isn’t from a family of musicians and singers. Nonetheless, Anju was fortunate enough because her parents always stood by her to fulfill her dreams of becoming a playback heroine.
Born to Bishnu and Mana Maya Panta, Anju learnt what aaroha, avaroha and alap were in music from the late Bhajan Shiromani Krishnaman Dangol.
As we ask her about her early days of career, she scans the ceiling for a while and recalls, “All that I dreamt was becoming a singer. In 1997, I got my first break. I sang a bhajan, “Manuwa manmai yogi banau.”
In 1998, Anju competed for the Nationwide Modern Song Competition organized by Radio Nepal. No wonder, her hard works paid her back, and she was declared the winner. Anju says it was then she realized that she could truly aim to becoming a professional singer.
She did many stage shows, sang for some features, but no one noticed her till she came up with an album “Kampan”, a remake of original Nepali hits.
Her vocal scale, projection and pronunciation in the songs of “Kampan” received accolades even from music critics.
Her dulcet voice in the remake of songs like “Banma phulyo phul”, “Maitighar” and “Reli Khola bagara” remained at the top of the chart for many weeks in different countdowns.
In no time, from film producers to music makers and composers, all started knocking at Anju’s doors. They all seemed to believe she could be the next playback singer to look up to.
The song “Kina udyo pankhi mana” from the film Bagar became her career launcher in Nepali silver screen, and since then there’s been no looking back.
Having lent her voice to popular numbers like the title song of “Ma Timi Bina Marihaalchhu,” “Bhun bhun bolyo bhamara” of Saput, “Dil yo mero dil” in Kismat, and “Sustari sustari mannma” for Darr, Anju has sung for some 180 films, both in duets and solos, to this day.
By the way, how old is she now?
She turns her head to her husband Manoj once again as he gives her an expression that silently signals her not to reveal her age, that she’s a woman, after all, and she speaks, “Well, it’s not done to ask a woman her age. But if you still insist, let me say I’m more than 25 and less than 30.”
With her schedules full with film projects, Anju shares all she feels about the playback scene in Nepal.
“Gone are the days when Nepali songs were really worth listening to. The muic has lost all its charms over the years in terms of technicalities and projection. Only a few music composers are working hard now.”
The lady, for whom all that matters is her work, has nothing to do with competing with anyone in the field.
She loves to keep herself away from unnecessary controversies, rumors; and in fact, she reveals that there’s nothing like pulling each other’s legs in this profession.
“Unlike in films, we don’t have to face controversies,” says she and adds, “But it’s sad that our coworkers (men) are paid more than us. Why? I have no clue.”
Recipient of such renowned awards like Chhinnalata Puraskar and Kantipur FM Music Awards for best female vocal, Anju, in her own words, wouldn’t have been able to make such a long journey without the inspiration and support of her hubby Manoj.
What next in her career, then?
She replies instantly, “Let’s leave that to time. Of course, I’ll be working in Nepal’s playback industry.”
It is then music composer Suresh Adhikary interrupts the conversation and hands a copy of lyrics to Anju and whispers to wind up the interview.
We resume our conversation.
Before asking anything more to her, she has a question for us, “Do I deserve a profile? Yes, I sing for films and I’m thankful to many for appreciating my voice. But are these aspects sufficient to be featured in a profile? I still have a long journey to make.”
Down to earth, Anju has also lent her voice to some Newar songs, a few Tharu tracks as well and also to lok dohori-s.
She concludes, “Everyone says I’m a good singer. But I don’t follow any rules singers are supposed to follow. Like I don’t avoid curd, I love spicy foods and I don’t gargle every morning.
“Maybe I’m gifted,” She chuckles and enters the studio. There she starts singing “Thorai mitho mitho lagyo”, a duet song in Sabir Shrestha’s upcoming film “Kasle Choryo Mero Yo Mann.”