A call from Atlanta, GA nearly made me trip while walking into the steps of a furniture store, in Falls Church city, VA that evening. It was a rare first time call from a number, I did not know. I reluctantly picked up the phone, not knowing who was on the other side. It did not take long to break the ice. A very gentle voice was greeting and introducing on the other end. “Daju, I am Mahesh Thulung from Georgia” he said. I accepted his greetings but did not know what to talk. Until then, I had not known Mahesh Bhai personally nor professionally. Thanks to this telephonic conversation – the process of knowing him closely has started now.
The conversation was short and straight. Mahesh Bhai was quite candid; he wanted to request if I could write a review for him. After Manoj, I was not looking to write another music review. So, I hesitatingly asked, “What do you have?” ‘Albums’ he responded, particularly my latest one – ‘Moments’.
Now, I do not claim myself to be a great music listener. When ever I do, I find myself more inclined towards the ‘Krantikari’ songs sung by our youths. But, then I realized with much pain that because of my fondness for songs of a particular genre, I have missed the other artists. Mahesh Bhai was one such upcoming artist who needed our appreciation. Bhutanese artists make the Bhutanese society proud. Through them our culture continues to live and grow. We have to make sure we believe in them. So, I consented to his request but asked for sometime to work on. I also asked for a copy of his CD.
Five days later, when I returned home from work, a FedEx parcel waited at my table. It was a copy of Mahesh Bhai’s ‘Moments’. I have never heard Mahesh Bhai sing on stage. Here was my chance. I plugged the CD into my car, the next day while on my way to work. Honestly, after listening to all the songs, I couldn’t say if I liked any of them. I found that some of his songs are a fusion of several flavors – something very unusual and may be unprecedented.
I kept plugging the CD as many times as I could. Then the beauty of the songs started to unfurl, then the magic happened. Suddenly, I started loving the songs. ‘Priyeshi Timro Yad Le Satau Chha Malai’ is a unique song. It soon became my favorite. Perhaps, I listened to it more than 40 times. Other songs like ‘Akashaima Chil Ho Ki Besara’ immediately reminds us of popular Nepali singer Sambhu Rai, whose songs used to absorb most of the radio frequency during the 80s and 90s. Mahesh Bhai is our Sambhu Rai. ‘Kina Nisthuri Banyou Timi’ is another beautiful song, I enjoyed listening. There are seven songs in the CD – most of them are good to listen to. In ‘Priyeshi Timro’ and ‘Kina Nisthuri’ the singer breaks away from traditional way of tuning but in ‘Akashaima’ he proves that he can also be as traditional as it can be. Versatility is a great strength.
We realize that our artists are facing big challenges. We are in a wrong time and in a wrong place. Time – which is a great resource in the production of music is in huge shortage. Being new immigrants, sucked into the American life, music cannot be a priority. However, Bhutanese artists today exude more confidence and have expanded their professional talent to a pretty high level. That is good news when the Bhutanese Nepali music industry is still crawling and needs to grow more. Their continued efforts to hold the pieces together deserve our worthy applause. I only hope that their songs will reflect our current social reality more than romance.
It is also good to learn that Mahesh Bhai is an excellent composer and a musician. Born and raised in a family where music was just not a matter of individual interest; but very much a part of household culture; he too has a very good vocal, a firm dedication and a great mission at his arsenal. We wish him the best in his future endeavors. With almost half a dozen play back songs (sung for Nepali movies) and a couple of CDs to his credit, Mahesh Bhai seems to be prepared to walk the journey forward. His latest – ‘Moments’ has hit the market. I would recommend his CD to all.
(Editor’s note: If you want to reserve a copy of this album please correspond at: [email protected])