MUSIC MAESTRO NATI KAJI
More than 3 score years ago the Nepali music industry was a near abyss, devoid of the most integral character, its own individuality. From 1950 (2007 BS), this flaw was in the course of elimination when Nati Kaji was introduced to the music scene. He was one of the few pioneers of this field who, with their folk-based contemporary music, crafted a musical revolution by urging the people to repudiate the then popular Hindi music and enjoy their own design.
” …ajai ra raati k dekhen sapana mai marigayeko…”
It’s songs like these that captured the hearts of the numerous listeners and launched Nati Kaji to the peak on which he is today. He has been rightfully credited for immortal numbers like ‘yo Nepali shir uchali’, which have the might to evoke an entire nation, songs like ‘sapana bhulai saara’, which demonstrate the angst of a broken heart, and then there are songs such as ‘timilai hasera bida matra diyisakethen’, which exhibit the despair of separation. Other eminent numbers are ‘fulako thunga’, ‘hridaya bhari ko mero’, ‘yesto pani hudoraichha’, ‘para laijau fulaharu’, ‘rani talau kinara’, etc.
Natikaji was a nickname given to Amrit Lal Shrestha by his grandparents, but this nickname is the one he is known by throughout the country. He was born in 1925 (1982 BS) at Pulchowk, Lalitpur. He lost his mother at the age of 5 and his father at the age of 10 and so fate had him raised by his grandparents at Gujeshwori where his grandfather was the temple priest. The environment in which one grows up has a massive role to play in what one becomes in life. Similarly, Nati Kaji commenced his musical venture at the fragile age of 7 when he started playing the harmonium at the Gujeshwori Bhajan Mandali. His professional music career, however, initiated when he joined Radio Nepal in 1950 (2007 BS). This was where he laid the foundation for modern music in Nepal through his eternal numbers like ‘Pahada Basi’, ‘Euta tara danda wari’, ‘Fulai fula fulana dharti’, etc. He is now well-known as a singer, lyricist and above all, a musician.
During the 40 years of his service in Radio Nepal, he composed over 2000 songs of varied genres: patriotic songs, love songs, bhajans and so on. He is also credited for the music of over 15 operas such as Pijada ko Suga, Kunjani, Prithvi Narayan Shah ka Char Pakchhya, etc. Hundreds of his compositions are yet not recorded in Radio Nepal. This shows the substantial magnitude of his creations. He might also be the one such composer who gave music to songs of the highest number of singers and lyricists of older and younger generations alike. The artists include Narayan Gopal, Tara Devi, Meera Rana, Gyanu Rana, Aruna Lama, Mala Sinha, Urmila Shrestha, Nirmala Shrestha, Kamala Shrestha, Gauri KC, Bhuvan Chand, Prem Dhoj Pradhan, Fatteman Rajbhandari, Ruby Joshi, Yogesh Vaidya, Pushpa Nepali, Bacchu Kailash Basnet, C.P. Lohani, Deep Shrestha, Manik Ratna, Indra Narayan, P.L. Shrestha, Panna Kaji, Shiva Shanker, Ramesh Tamrakar, Bharati Upadhyaya, Sangita Shakya, Yam Baral, Ram Krishna Dhakal, Ananda Karki, Rajesh Payal Rai, Pradeep Raj Pandey, Sangita Pradhan, Lochan Bhattarai, Devika Pradhan, Anjan Shakya and many others.
As an accolade to his contributions, he has been bestowed with hundreds of awards, which include Gorkha Dakshin Bahu Pratham, Indra Rajya Laxmi Pragya Puraskar, Chinnalata Geet Puraskar and Bhupal Sangeet Puraskaramong many others.
“…euta tara jharda pani aakash singai ritto lagchha…”
At the descent of a star, the whole sky seems vacant… indeed the very aftermath ensued the demise of the legendary musician Nati Kaji Shrestha in 2003 (2060 BS), as if the contemporary Nepali music had lost its foundation, abandoning it in an adhering reverie. That event had left merely memories, which would not resolve anything unless fortified and elicited to serve as the proxy radiance in the darkness of the night sky. As a consequence of assembling those sheer memoirs together, a guild was formed, the ‘Nati Kaji Memorial Society’, encompassing a number of prominent musicians, litterateurs and singers, who, through their genuine efforts, have kept alive the flamboyance of the prodigy till date.
In a chaste effort to revivify the perpetual music composed by Nati Kaji Shrestha, the society has been conducting felicitation programs and concerts every year, each time assembling a group of artists old and new who, in their own way, exhibit popular songs composed by the Nati Kaji. It has also been granting awards to legendary and promising artists involved in the Nepali folk, classical and modern music sector in Nepal. Other feats of the society include the Rs. 5 stamp with Nati Kaji, a website in his name and a junction named after him. This association is relentlessly striving to keep his memory alive, the memory of a maestro…