Ram Thapa Troubadour through the times
BY ANJALI SUBEDI
Ram Thapa, an icon in Nepali folk music, and the one responsible for composing the historic BBC’s most wanted popular number, Rituharuma Timi, among hundreds of other modern songs, and the one who has written volumes of ‘guitar guide’ books for basic learners is here speaking out to all his fans and admires through City Post. He lays open his experiences, his woes and most importantly, his worries over the present musical scenario in Nepal which is being too commercialized, leading to discouraging and diminishing the genuine artistes.
Hai hai! Bankali Mai….
Ram Thapa starts to sing the folk melody so excitedly and beautifully that it seems whether he is 16 once again as he was when he first recorded the song.
No sooner than you love to listen to another hit by him, he asks you what next you would like to hear. Apparently humble, jolly and full of life though he looks, the popular artiste has sustained the blows of cruel fate that has left him to live a lonely and solitary life.
"From the outside, who says I’m not happy? Inside, people have different stories. So have I," he shares, but still deceiving the listener with his sparkling and peaceful eyes.
Born in 1958 in Kamal Pokhari of Kathmandu, Thapa is among six offspring of his parents. And he is not happy to have been born in the capital city.
"Were I from the remote area in the east or west, people would back me up, feel proud of me. They would also bring me to the forefront in terms of fame and fortune as an artiste. But when you’re from the city, there’s no need for people to take your name, there’s no emotional bond as such. It’s a loss."
While saying so, Thapa also refers to the national award – Gorkha Dakshin Bahu – which every artiste dreams of but which he never got. Surprisingly, there are many junior artistes such as Nalina Chitrakar and Sharmila Malla who have already been decorated with the very royal award. No wonder, then, Ram Thapa is pinched to some extent.
But it is not that Thapa has been forgotten in the concerned sectors. He bagged the Chhinnalata Sangeet Puraskar two years ago. There are quite a few more certificates, awards and mementos when you look around his room.
"They’re less popular in name though no less valuable to me," is the way Thapa justifies each of his awards and citations.
From the age of 16, Thapa seriously ventured into his singing career. Hai hai Bankali Mai was his first recorded song, and that was 30 years ago. At 46 today, Thapa’s life so far has been a journey through music, and music alone.
"At 22, I had a court marriage. I’m a Thapa Magar and she was a Newar. Obviously, ours was a love marriage. She was always supportive. We had one son. He was a brilliant student, a sharp boy. My family was also proud of what I did and what I was. And they always let me exploit all my strength and caliber just for the sake of music. As God sends everyone to this earth with a purpose, I feel he sent me to do what I’ve been doing. Music is my life."
God rewarded him with rich talents and placed him in the hearts of all the Nepalis for which not only Thapa but the entire nation is grateful. But, God’s another game is equally hurting which has left the dedicated artiste melancholic in his mid-lifetime. An accident took the life of his only son when he was a teenager. After the incident, the couple tried for another baby, but to no avail. And finally, while Ram decided not to abandon their home at Naikap in Kathmandu, his wife, who lost her son when she was in the USA, did not like to come back to live there, since that would make her memories of her son relapse and haunt her.
As a result, Thapa today lives a lonely life. But his lifestyle is much disciplined and balanced. The man with strong sense of humor simply impresses you while he describes his daily routine and his idea of life. He has been a jobholder at Radio Nepal for years. Rising early, taking his morning walks, doing his household chores, looking after his official duty, he, in addition, runs guitar classes.
"I’ve rented a room in Kalanki to teach guitar. I guide my students in the morning and evening," he informs. "At present, however, the youngsters want to learn today and become hits tomorrow. But I love to work with only those who have real respect for music, not the other kinds," he asserts.
"Well, you can sing and compose, if you like to, whether you’ve talent for that or not. That’s your choice. But there must be a sector that filters the quality, and backs up the real artistes and discourages the ones who try to sustain on the might of money alone."
Ram further adds, "We’re in the shadows since nobody knows we’re still working. So is the case of almost all the senior artistes in Nepal. See what media can do when it’s not sensitive to deserving people."
In the meantime, three albums of Thapa are in the pipeline to get released very soon. But his biggest dream is to establish an excellent music school in Nepal before he turns too feeble to do so.
Source: Kantipur Online