KATHMANDU: More than a thousand songs to his name, singers many have sung his tunes, while films and videos have been enriched by his musical genius — Prakash Gurung is one musician who has left an indelible mark in the Nepali music world.
Rooted in music
His story begins in the hills of Darjeeling where his friends encouraged and inspired him to compose songs.
“I used to play rhythm instruments like maadal, tabla and dhol quite well since school days and we used to go to places for programmes. My friends used to ask me to compose songs then,” Gurung shared of this important phase in his life which set him off on his musical journey.
Going for programmes with friends who were musicians as well as working with veteran musicians helped him learn and understand music better. He got to work and learn from artistes like Amber Gurung, Gopal Yonzon, Karma Yonzon and Nati Kazi.
“When artistes like Narayan Gopal and Gopal Yonzan came to Darjeeling for performances, I used to assist them as a musician.”
It was a great learning experience for him.
However, Gurung who was also into sports began focussing more on music from the time he was in Class VIII. By the time he was in Class X, he had started work as a composer.
“If not music, then I would have been a sportsman,” he shared.
Since his teenage years, he “wanted to become a music composer”.
“I used to listen to Nepali songs on the radio and my father was an expert in Shastriya Sangeet,” he said and that is why he believes “music is not forced but it comes with environment and culture”.
A small giant step
He left Darjeeling in 1972 to see the world of music in Nepal. This trip changed his life.
“Narayan Gopal and Gopal Yonzon asked me to visit Kathmandu to see what was happening here in music,” he shared. After that there was no turning back as he “got busy working on the rhythm section for many artistes”.
In 1973-74, Bhavishya Mera Sabai Lai Bhanchhu in the voice of Mira Rana was recorded. It was his first composition to be recorded by Radio Nepal.
However, it wasn’t his first song to be recorded. Timi Afai Netraheen had already made it to his list as his first recorded song. It was recorded live on Kurseong All India Radio in 1971.
After that first recording in Radio Nepal, he worked with Prem Dhoj Pradhan, Yogesh Baidya and Tara Devi before taking a break of two years. “I had gone to Pokhara and after returning I worked with artistes like Om Bikram Bista,” he said.
Good work definitely gets noticed — his composition Ma Samjhanthe sung by Bista — became a hit and he became a name to reckon. With a hit song to his name, he got the opportunity to work with artistes like Sukmit Gurung and Deepak Kharel apart from Bista.
His compositions like Sun Chandhi Bandha, Mero Rahar Biujhiera, Har Raat Bandha Kotha Ma, Nabhani Deu became very popular.
A complete musician
Gurung is not only known for his compositions of non-film songs. He has been involvement in films as a music director like in Jhuma, Sadak, Andolan, Aghat, Bhagwan among others. He has directed songs like Chori Deu Chori Deu.
“I had already done music direction in a video film, Jhuma which was later made into a film where I also did music direction,” he shared.
He did music direction for films on a friend’s request. However, creating tunes for films did not interest him much. “Doing songs for films is commercial, and I don’t want to be commercial. I am more into Sugam Sangeet,” he shared.
Be it pop or film songs or contemporary, he has composed tunes of all kinds. “I love to do any genre of Nepali music, but it is Sugam Sangeet I prefer because it gives me satisfaction,” he stated. “When I compose good songs, I feel satisfied.”
He is also known as a singer and lyricist. “I am also a singer but I concentrate on composition. But I have done an album where I have composed as well as sung — the song Binti Chha was a hit,” he said.
And he asked, “People know a singer and if I can sing, then why not?”
He is coming up with two albums where his unheard compositions will be included.
For Gurung, music is “a part of life which is way of expression”. And in the shoes of a composer, he can compose a song on the road, in a room or in a house provided he is in “the mood”.
“If you are in the right mood, you can create a song in half-an-hour,” he opined.
Of a typical Prakash Gurung day, he said, “From seven in the morning to seven in the evening, I am doing music.” And in his spare time, he loves to watch sports and news on TV, and gardening on Saturdays.
Music is not forced but it comes with environment and culture
If you are in the right mood, you can create a song in half-an-hour
If not music, then I would have been a sportsman
I love to do any genre of Nepali music, but I prefer Sugam Sangeet as it gives me satisfaction. When I compose good songs, I feel satisfied