KATHMANDU, Aug 1: Shanti Thatal, inching towards 70, is still as passionate about music. She carries the mantle of the first female music composer in such Nepali films as “Paralko Aago” (1978) and “Bachna Chahaneharu” (1982) and has over 200 songs to her credit.
Hailing from Darjeeling, she worked for 25 years in the Culture Department of the Sikkim Government before retiring back to Darjeeling in 2002.
Currently in Kathmandu for the Paleti Utsav, the annual music festival organized by nepa~laya, from August 9 to 12, she is set to perform more than a dozen songs and enthrall her listeners.
What are your feelings on being a part of the Paleti Utsav?
What nepa~laya is doing for artists is very commendable. Nepal has a lot of scope, and a lot of progress and development has come by since our days. Darjeeling has yet to provide such a platform for artists. It’s not that such concerts or festivals cannot be organized there but the merging of likeminded individuals is important for that.
I’m very happy that Nepal hasn’t forgotten artists like us. Nepa~laya has brought forward old and forgotten artists from Darjeeling, and encouraged us and made us believe that we can still perform. Perhaps no one has been more encouraged by this than me. It makes me feel that even if I cannot do it, I should try my best.
What differences do you perceive in the music industry then and now?
I see a lot of differences. In our days, we had only Radio Nepal. There were no FM stations, and no television but we did do a lot with what we had. Now there are lots of FM stations and media to encourage the many talented artists of today. The music industry has evolved into something commercial and I think that change is good.
Artists have to earn their living. One can’t live on gratitude alone. In the previous days, we would receive only thanks for our efforts, and sometimes even that would be scarce. We were happy as long as we were able to perform. It wasn’t commercialized then. Now no one works for free.
What do you enjoy more, singing or composing music?
I was a singer first, and I’ve always preferred singing to composing. After I started singing, I decided to train and then I learnt to value music more deeply. It’s important that an artist understands the value of the talents he/she has been blessed with. I started composing music in 1965 with inspiration from my family and because of the everyday situations in Darjeeling.
How are you enjoying your retired life?
Retired life is one of freedom. You can do as you please, at any time you prefer. But though I’ve retired ss Deputy Director at the Culture Department in Sikkim, my work as an artist is still going on. Artists can never retire. I shuttle between Darjeeling and Sikkim at times for concerts, and sometimes I
compose music too.