Vibrant, yet growing Bhutanese music industry


An artist can become a refugee, but no power can make his or her art a refugee like himself or herself.

This particular version aptly applies to some resettled music artists as their enthusiasm toward their own creations and songs to quench musical thirst of their fellow-Bhutanese have been remarkably mounting even in the country of resettlement.

Amber Subba

Financially paralyzed Amber Subba, a former refugee from Beldangi-I Refugee Camp, never dreamed that he would be able to invest for his own album in his life though his attachment towards music was unfathomable since his youth.

The third country resettlement program that enabled him to begin a new life in the United States completely transformed his overall thinking and daily life. However, his hope for deeper attachment towards the music started multiplying – thanks to efforts of the international community that decided to rescue thousands of Amber from their ramshackle huts in the UN-managed refugee camps in eastern part of Nepal.

“I am extremely delighted at present. My new album is making a good circulation in the States, Australia, Canada and Nepal,” Subba tells, “For an individual purchase, we have fixed a net price of US $15.”

Recently, he has produced a new album ‘Amber’ that has carried his seven best compositions. Of them, two lyrics are by fellow-Bhutanese Shiva Chamlagain and a Nepalese singer Santosh Lama.

The ‘Amber’ contains vocal of Santosh Lama, who was ranked second by one of the famous television reality shows in Nepal, Nepali Tara.

“The album is a combination of various seven folk, pop and semi-classical songs,” adds composer Subba.

Music video of one of his songs ‘Narisaune Manche‘ was recently released, and is available in the YouTube.

“The response from consumers, friends and well-wishers is amazing. We are already in a pipeline to produce music videos of three more songs from my album.”

Kedar Upreti

According to Subba, the Planet3 Films, and IRCreation from the US will soon start shooting of ‘Jalera Mutu‘ and ‘Lagthyo Timi‘ respectively, while RD Production from Canada has agreed to produce a music video of ‘Raatai Vari Huri Chhalechha‘.

While, a music video directed by refugee film artist Kedar Upreti (UK) ‘Maya Yestai Rahecha’, one of the songs of young singer, composer and lyricist Rakesh Subba was released in December last year, and is a popular music video readily available for all viewers in the YouTube. Artist Subba is a former refugee from Khudunabari Refugee Camp.

The Bhutanese artists trio, Roshan Bista, Jasna Shamal and Vinod Gurung, have done modeling in the Upreti’s video.

Upreti has experience of playing vital roles in over half a dozen of movies back in Nepal, and that included a few movies on the theme of the Bhutanese refugee issue.

“This is my first work after I resettled in America from Sanischare Refugee Camp,” Director Upreti tells Bhutan News Service. “We are also planning various thematic movies to depict the post resettlement life in America.”

Back in the refugee camp, Upreti directed movies like ‘Punar Milan’, ‘Jhupadiko Jindagi’, ‘Tukreyako Mutu’, ‘Bhagyako khel’, ‘Nasha’, ‘Astitowko Ladai’, ‘Play Boy’, ‘Talash’, ‘Pabitra Bandhan’, and ‘Birsana Bhani Deu‘.

Jeevan Prakash Pradhan is arranger of the music video that was edited by Anish Thapa of the PRM Production.

Lokesh Gurung
Lokesh Gurung

Yet another young singer and composer, Lokesh Gurung, had just completed his ninth grade while opting the third country resettlement in Missouri.

Within three years of his resettlement, 18-years-old artist Gurung invested around US $3,200 for the production of his solo album ‘Pratiksha‘, which is a fusion of Nepali gazal songs.

“I started singing right from the age of nine,” explains Gurung. “The motivation that I have been receiving from senior artists have inspired me to come up with the album,” he adds.

According Gurung, the album is under circulation within various states in America and Canada.

The album has altogether seven songs including his own lyrics. Other lyricists included Dawa Tamang, Deepak Dasnami and Kiran Gazmere.

The Rhythmscreen Creation, a recording studio owned by resettled Bhutanese in Georgia, has done the task of recording and mixing of the ‘Pratiksha‘.

Elaborating his future plans, Gurung says, preparation for doing a music video in one of his songs in Nepal is currently underway.

“Many of our artists are compelled to travel to Nepal or India for recording their songs. This has become expensive for them, and we have emerged to materialize their dreams,” announces Kamal Rai of the Rhythmscreen Creation.

According to Rai, his team desire to promote future generations by freely producing their music videos, and recording songs.

Artist Rai has been doing his own album, which is a collection of sentimental pop, folk and modern songs, expected to be released within this year.

Nandi Kishore Siwakoti
Nandi Kishore Siwakoti
Kamal Rai
Kamal Rai

While, popular artist Nandi Kishore Siwakoti says he is also planning to do his yet another album in near future.

“My first album has added more rooms of motivation for doing the second album,” says artist Siwakoti, who released his first album ‘Bhugol‘ before resettling in the United States in 2009.

Siwakoti is happy to witness growing charms for music. However, he says artists need to maintain a certain standard and quality.

“We need serious exercises, and a strong dedication in this (music) filed. Just adding an album with investments of hard-earned money is not going to take the Bhutanese artists to a desired path,” explains he.

“The new album is directed by famous Nepali composer Ranjeet Gajmere. If every thing goes as per the plan, I wish to record the songs in Mumbai,” adds singer Siwakoti, who expects to release the new album by 2014.

Siwakoti was one of the noted icons in the Mechi Tara, a mega reality show in eastern nepal and was ranked runner position among 800 contestants from four districts of Nepal.

Next, Washington-based Khem Rizal is working with Satya Acharya and Swaroop Acharya, sons of Nepalese legendary singer Bhakta Raj Acharya, for his new music album planned to be released in immediate future.

Krish Rizal with his album
Krish Rizal
Khem Rizal
Khem Rizal
Mani Rizal
Mani Sharma Rizal

Collection of songs from a large-screen Nepali film, ‘Biteka Pal’, has been in massive circulations in the United States, Nepal and India.

Khem’s brother Krish Rizal is producer of the film that awaits its release later this year, and has joint investment from Rajesh Ghatane and Rizal himself, and directed by Suraj Subba Nalbo. Babu Bogati, Keki Adhikari and Abhinash Gurung are its lead characters. Emerging artist Gurung is the son of Bimal Gurung, chief of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).

According to Krish, he is happy with wider supports that the team has been bee receiving from friends and fans as regards to circulation of the film’s songs.

Yet, another brother Mani Sharma Rizal’s music album ‘Saman‘ is also in the market. Artist Rizal has written lyrics of all songs of the album composed and sang by Nepalese artist, Yam Baral.

Kanchi Maya Subba
Kanchi Maya Subba

Likewise, Kanchi Maya Subba, a former refugee from Beldangi-I and based in Verginia, is also doing her new album. Most of the arrangement is over, and she plans to travel to Nepal sometimes later in August for recording.

Meanwhile, the ‘Bhajan Samarpan‘ is the first bhajan album produced by the Bhutanese artists from Atlanta. Kamal Rai, Kishor Siwakoti, and Bishal Gurung, among others have done the composition for the album.

Deepak Dasnami
Deepak Dasnami

Young  lyricist and composer Deepak Dasnami’s album ‘Abroad’ is another music album based on different seven songs of modern flavors.

Nepalese singers like Yojana Puri, Tara Limbu, Rajendra Pokhrel and Min Gurung have given their melody to his songs. While, Arjun Pokhrel, Binod Bajurali and Chandu Gorkhali have done music arrangements of the ‘Abroad’ recorded at the RB Music Production, and marketed by Kripa Drishya Digitals.

“The album was produced in supports from the Bhutanese Association of Saint Louis, Everest Café, Gurung Bazaar and Radio Audio FM,” explains artist Dasnami.

The RD Entertainment, a music industry launched by resettled Bhutanese, in Calgary of Canada has been actively involved in producing various music videos.

Yet another emerging resettled Bhutanese female singer is Gopi Rasaily.

Rasaily, now resides at Akron, Ohio in the United States. She started singing from the stage programs organized in the refugee camps.

Gopi Rasaili performing with Yam Baral
Gopi Rasaily performing with Yam Baral

Previously from Sanischare Camp, Rasaily has contributed her voice in one of the folk songs by Prem Poudyel and she has assisted Kamal Rai in his album ‘Duel Heart’.

Rasaily has performed duet with noted Nepali singing icons Yam Baral and Jagdis Samal during the live concerts held at Pittsburgh and Missouri respectively recently.

“Besides contemporary Nepali songs, I love singing Hindi songs and gazals. Now during my gratis hours I am working on Bhajaans and planning to bring a Bhajaan Album in near future. I have decided this keeping in mind to help our community listening Bhajaans during their regular prayers and religious gatherings,” Rasaily adds.

Nandi Kishore Siwakoti from South Dakota and Rup Pokharel from Pennsylvania contributed to this report.

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