Nepali Times
Nepali Society
Kunti’s triple trophy

Nepal is beautiful, but we could do with some peace," says Kunti Moktan, who is among a dozen Nepali singers touring the country for "Sundar Shanta Nepal" a series of peace concerts culimnating in a grande finale in Kathmandu on 8 March.

And that will be exactly a month after Kunti bagged three trophies in this year's HITS FM Music awards. The award ceremony had a lot of firsts: the first time artificial snow rained down in the hall, the first time a singer zoomed off-stage pillion riding (with a helmet) on a motorcycle, the first time the lead singer arrived at the BICC on a helicopter.and the first time a female singer bagged three of the main awards.

When Kunti Moktan alighted from the Ecuriel helicopter in front of the conventional hall that afternoon, she knew it was going to be an exciting day. But not that exciting. By the end of the evening, as she did a Norah Jones, bagging one award after another, (Best Female Vocal Performance, Album of the Year and Record of the Year) she was in seventh heaven.

"What can I say? I'm happy, elated, euphoric, delighted," Kunti gushed before flying off to Bharain for a pre-arranged concert tour for Nepalis there. Kunti had expected at the most one award, but when she got three she, her song-writing husband and two daughters didn't have their feet on the ground any longer. It was all the more praise-worthy because the nominees in all three categories were top class-symbolising the great strides that Nepali music has taken in terms of originality and professionalism.

Kunti has wanted to sing ever since she can remember. Born in a tea garden in Darjeeling 41 years ago, she enjoyed listening and singing songs right from her childhood. Kunti started recording songs for AIR Kurseong in 1977, but was not satisfied. She wanted to reach out to a wider Nepali audience. So, she came to Kathmandu. "It was the right decision," she recalls. Her first song on Radio Nepal in 1980 was "Kahile kahin malai pani" became an instant hit and launched Kunti's career.

Kunti feels the Nepali music industry has now reached critical mass: musicians and singers can make a living out of the profession, they don't need to keep a salaried job elsewhere. And despite the inroads of television and FM, Nepali music has grown, proving wrong those who thought Nepal would be overtaken by Bollywood songs and American pop.

The other phenomenon that Kunti finds heartening is that all the songs that won awards had folk elements in them. "You may like the ocassional pizza, but sooner or later you come back to your dhedo and gundruk," she says. And anyone who has felt like getting up to dance to the pure-Nepali rhythms of "Dharan Dhankuta" will know what she means.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)