KALI PRASAD BASKOTA: A NEW BEGINNING
As romanticized, as making a profession out of your passion might seem, it is not always feasible for everyone. Real life has a nasty way of bringing things into perspective and many people set aside their passions for a more conventional career pursuit. A story familiar to the majority of Nepali households.
After 15 years of working at the Tilganga Eye Hospital, Kali Prasad Baskota, award-wining composer turned singer, decided to follow his passion for music.
Growing up to tunes played on the radio and aspiring to someday have his own voice ringing through the speakers, Kali was always destined for the music scene.
Thankfully, Kali Prasad Baskota took the leap of faith and decided to follow his dreams. And he could not have done it any better. From composing music to singing songs Kali Prasad Baskota took massive strides to establish himself as someone worth noticing. Switching lanes and risking the comforts of a stable job to get into music full time was a risk that was worth taking for Kali. However, he had a methodical planning to it all.
A strong work philosophy was crucial to his success. Married and with children, committing to an industry with a less than lucrative reputation meant that Kali had to tread carefully. And from the experiences that he had collected through his music ventures in the past, he was sure of one thing: that simplicity would be integral to success.
“It took me quiet some time to completely immerse myself into music, not because I didn’t want to but because I had other priorities” explained Kali Prasad Baskota as we sipped some coffee at the Irish Pub in Lazimpat.
We had just begun talking. Only a few moments ago he had arrived apologizing profusely for his tardiness. And we understood that there were obviously things holding him up, after all he is the man of the moment in Nepal’s music industry.
Dishing out hit songs one after the other and participating as one of the judges of the first ever Nepal Idol, Kali Prasad has plenty on his plate. However, it was a slow start for Kali into the music industry. He treaded into the music world after his SLC when he started delving into Eastern Classical music. In this time he met people from the industry and picked up on things that would help build a platform for his future in music.
For a long time music had taken the back seat for Kali.
“I wasn’t really ambitious about music when I was younger, when I should have really been;” he elucidated “maybe because I was focused more on my job and standing on my own two feet.”
His professional career led him to a working position as Senior Production Officer at the Tilganga Eye Hospital where he worked for 15 years. But it wasn’t job dissatisfaction that that led to his resignation from the job. He went on to explain; “I loved my job, and I had a lot of friends and well wishers who I’m sure are happy about where I have ended up.”
What compelled him to choose a different path was his love for music and the desire for a challenging career. Even though he was in a completely contrasting career path he was never able to completely let go of music. So he did the few projects that he could manage. Kali didn’t take on everything that came his way but the few he did, he did with all of his heart.
As our conversations carried on Kali Prasad Baskota excused himself to attend to a call from Adrian Pradhan. They indulged in a short discussion in regards to some royalty issues. This diverted our talks towards the toppic after he hung up.
“It’s difficult to conclusively say there is a secure future in the Nepalese music industry, because things are in disarray” he said between sips of his coffee “there isn’t a proper revenue system for Nepali musicians.”
Royalties, remuneration, and security of job have been issues that have plagued several musicians in the industry. And this helps shed light on reasons underlying the reluctance of passionate artists refraining from pursuing a career in their art.
I try to keep my compositions as simple as possible. There are times when complexity is required but complexity does not necessarily guarantee quality work.
“I try to keep my compositions as simple as possible. There are times when complexity is required but complexity does not necessarily guarantee quality work.” He carried on. “The way people perceive art is pretty much the same for everyone around the world. Everyone feels pain, sorrow and jubilation. People relate to the same innate feelings. The only difference is that artists can express these feelings and portray it in a way that other people can enjoy it. But at times artists lose track of where they are headed and stray from simplicity and that’s when most people lose their footing.”
A grammar professor cannot write a poem that sends shivers down spines, it takes a poet to do that because you’re expressing sensations, not just words.
This has been a pivotal aspect to Kali Prasad Baskota’s work. An artist’s best workreflects when and only when he or she looks into themselves and inebriates themselves with their deepest sensations. To put it better, Kali resorted to this example “A grammar professor cannot write a poem that sends shivers down spines, it takes a poet to do that because you’re expressing sensations, not just words.”
Our conversation soon moved to the importance of the music culture of Nepal, a concept that has been trending in the music industry. The integration of Nepali folk music styles has been well received in the mainstream, and Kali Prasad Baskota agrees with the notion. “Authenticity to music comes when an artist or composer harks back to the roots of their music,” he explained “but it has to be presented in a way that is perceptible to the rest of the world. Finding that balance is important. One particular band that I admire for this is the Night Band. They’ve been doing a tremendous job of bringing the treasures of Nepali music and its history into mainstream.”
Kali Prasad Baskota has been involved in several projects recently, all of which have been well received. Working in movies is what tickles his fancy the most, for the primary reason that he likes the challenge.
“The script demands a certain mood for the music. It has to fit into the situation. This makes me work harder to produce something that is good but within the constraints of the movie requirements.To be honest, most of the songs that I have worked on and that have been received well by audiences have been shaped by the situation that was offered to me. It compels you to think differently and to step into someone else’s shoes. Weather it is wooing an irked love interest (Nira Jaile risaune) or the Kaathe dialect used in the Thamel Bazaar song, these are situations I was put in and it helped me think out of the box. That’s when I am at a 100%.”
Getting into each situation that is put in front of him and then doing the proper research takes a lot of time, and that has played a role in building his reputation for extending deadlines.
After winning the hearts of audiences around the country, Kali does not look like he will be slowing down any time soon. “Making a proper team is my prime focus. I’m not in a position where I can round up a team and pay them to work solely/independently for me.” He said sharing his plans with us “I think we are in a point in time where collaboration is the best answer, and not just for the sake of it. It should be a proper team effort where everyone is in the same zone and working with the same intentions. And I want to integrate and work with the Nepalese folk songs.”
The main reason I came into mainstream music was because I was able to utilize what I knew. There are so many underground talents that are more talented than anyone in the mainstream, just because they aren’t as popular is no reason to undermine their talents
Despite the success and adoration he has received, Kali is adamant that popularity is not the best gauge for an artist’s talents. “The main reason I came into mainstream music was because I was able to utilize what I knew. There are so many underground talents that are more talented than anyone in the mainstream, just because they aren’t as popular is no reason to undermine their talents. “
Kali Prasad Baskota has played his cards right. A lyricist, composer and a singer, his work in the music industry of Nepal has reaped great rewards. More importantly, he has served as an inspiration to those who are hesitant to pursue their passions. He has exemplified the notion that it is never too late to start and we’re sure there is plenty more that the man with the magic touch has to offer.
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: TNM TEAM | WARDROBE: STORE ONE, DURBAR MARG