- His own path
Nov 2, 2012-
As the day begins, a little corner of Baneshwor slowly comes to life, echoing with the sound of a soothing voice merged with the plaintive strains of the harmonium. Deepak Jangam, veteran musician and lyricist, and
currently a professor in the music department at Padma Kanya Campus in Bagbazaar, likes to rehearse early in the morning, seated comfortably in a room on the second floor of his house on Chakrapani Chalise Marg, a black bhadgaule topi fitted atop his head. The room is unmistakably that of a musician’s—in the right corner sits a recording device, for when Jangam says “inspiration hits”, and a tanpura leans against the wall on the other side. Pausing only to usher me into the space, he quickly resumes his position in front of the harmonium. The song—Jaha Timi Gaye Pani—is a recent composition, he tells me before launching into song.
Jangam is a veritable hero amid aficionados of adhunik Nepali music, the man behind compositions that have been staples on the airwaves for over three generations including well-known titles like Gaajalu Ti Thula Thula Aankha, which was sung in the mid-1980s by Ghulam Ali, as well as Euta Manchhe Ko, one of Narayan Gopal’s most popular songs. He also penned the lyrics to other classics, such as Saawan Ko Jhari and many others that were part of Gopal’s repertoire.
Born in Bhaktapur in 1953 on the day of the Swasthani Purnima—a significant occasion for Hindus—Jangam says he was influenced to a great degree by the wealth of history and culture he grew up amid in his hometown. “Music was all around you,” he says. “You woke up to the sound of bells and hymns, and you had musicians playing their instruments and singing songs throughout the day—it was impossible not to feel a connection.” That
connection was strengthened by Jangam’s father, the then-chairman of the Bhaktapur Municipality, who had a great fondness for music, even though he didn’t actually play himself. “I remember he’d go off to Panauti with large groups of musicians for long periods of time,” Jangam says. “I guess that’s what made me want to be a musician too.”
When he was around eight-years-old, the family moved to Dillibazaar in Kathmandu, an experience Jangam describes as “isolating.” “But being at a
distance from the people and streets I’d been around since childhood also gave me a chance to really invest myself in music without distraction,” he says. He would listen to the radio for hours on end, singing along to popular songs, eventually going on to participate in children’s music programmes on Radio Nepal.
It wasn’t until June 22, 1964, however, that things really turned around for the musician. The then-Royal Nepal Academy was having its annual show, and the legendary playwright and poet Balkrishna Sama was in charge of selecting performers. When Jangam went and auditioned, Sama was apparently so pleased that he was instantly accepted, and what’s more, the academy actually granted him a three-year scholarship to study music and drama. “I was so young and this was such a big thing to have happened to me that I couldn’t process it for a long time,” he says. He was soon being taught by Sama, and for Jangam, the playwright was a great source of inspiration. “He was a very modest man,” he says. “Given his knowledge and experience, he could’ve been big-headed, arrogant, but he was nothing but humble, and a wonderful teacher.” Sama would often walk with him on the way home from class, and these walks, for Jangam, comprised some of the most stimulating and educational conversations he has ever known.
Jangam’s professional trajectory then proceeded at a comfortable pace. He completed a bachelor’s degree in music at the Nepal Sangeet Maha Vidhyalaya, going on to work at the Royal Nepal Academy’s music department. He then acquired his master’s degree from the Pragya Sangeet Samiti in Kolkata, India, in 1978. Five years following that, he was appointed the chairman and general manager of the Ratna Recording Corporation (RRC), the only recording company operating in Nepal back then. And it was at RRC that he first met Narayan Gopal, becoming closer to the singer in time. “He wanted very much to launch an LP, but technology was such that that was difficult to do at the time,” Jangam says. Two long, hard years of work later, Gopal’s first LP was complete, which included all-time favourites like Malai Nasodha, Priyasika Yaadharu, Parkhi Base, and Timile Bhaneka. And in two more years, Gopal’s
second album—Geeti Yatra I—was launched, and half of the eight songs were composed by Jangam himself.
As fulfilling as the work at RRC was, Jangam says it was also extremely taxing at times. “You’d be organising programmes and handling recordings back and forth, and not all of them would go smoothly,” he says. An instance of this occurred during an event in 1985—the Shubhakamana Saanjh—that RRC was responsible for, a three-day affair featuring Gopal along with other musical outfits, that almost didn’t happen when a group of singers from Radio Nepal cancelled at the last minute. But with Gopal’s help, and aided by other budding musicians of the time like Om Bikram Bista and Bhaktaraj Acharya, the show thankfully went on.
Jangam has various achievements till date, including being the recipient of a Suprabal Gorkha Dakshin Bahu and a Chhinnalata Puraskar—among dozens of other awards—he fondly recalls working with the Pakistani gazal maestro Mehi Hassan during his 1993 concert in Kathmandu. Hassan was the first international singer to receive the Gorkha Dakshin Bahu from the Nepali
government, and Jangam says it was an honour to have not just guided, but actually composed songs for such an eminent personality.
Besides his professorial duties, Jangam is also, at present, the chairman of the music committee under the Education Ministry’s Curriculum Development Centre, and has already
formulated curricula for higher secondary and bachelor level courses. This is just one of the many ways in which the musician has made an indelible impression on Nepal’s music industry during his four-decade career. Having played a big role in shaping the history of adhunik music in the country, Jangam’s contributions—still continuing to this day—will not be forgotten easily.
Published: 03-11-2012 09:35