July 25, 2024, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

The musical life of Singer Amrita Shripal

The Nepal Weekly
June 20, 2023

By Narendra Raule

Singer Amrita Shripal is no less than a film actress in terms of her art. She has an art of tempting people with the mellow tone of her voice. However, she does not seek to be in the limelight. If she had got a chance to act in a movie, she would probably have got popularity as an actress.

Amrita Shreepali of Bhakimli of Myagdi Beni Municipality-3 wanted to become a singer since she was in school. She used to participate in school and college programmes without missing any of them. In the programme organised by the women’s group in the village, she beat everyone to become a winner. She wanted to be immersed in the musical world. Her brother Binod used to sing songs. This made it easier for her. Amrita entered Kathmandu, now the federal capital of Nepal, 7 years ago. She passed her SLC in 069 from the Jayanti Secondary School, Myagdi, and completed her plus two from the Myagdi Campus, Beni. In 1973, her desire to study music led her to Kathmandu. At that time, she was living in a rented apartment with a friend. She was new to this city. Someone told her, “People who sing folk songs don’t need to learn music. Only those who engage in modern singing have to learn music.” She believed that. Amrita, who got enrolled in the Saraswati Campus in Lekhnath Marga, Thamel, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, had to find a job for managing expenses. She continued her studies while working at a dohori restaurant in the New Bus Park, Kathmandu. Dohori is a kind of cultural singing battle between two teams.

She was on duty from 6 pm to 12 am in the restaurant. She had to work the whole night, and go to college during the day. This hectic time made it difficult for her to continue her studies. So, she reluctantly had to quit her studies in the second year. She felt that her studies would not help her pursue her dream. There was not a balance between her studies and her dream.

Amrita was immersed in the intoxication of music. Music gave her a different energy. She would like to play the harmonium, and hum songs. Be it cooking or washing clothes, even sitting in the room, she would always like to hum songs. “Ba (father) used to scold him when I went home. I used to keep humming songs all the time,’’ she said, ‘He used to yell at me telling “how many songs I sang”.’’ In fact, her father would call Amrita ‘Lahure Ban’.

He (Amrita’s father) wanted her to serve in the Army probably because he was in the Indian Army. Her elder sister used to ask her to pursue staff nurse courses. While studying in college, a friend named Bibha Dhungana used to encourage me to pursue music.

Amrita has no regrets about becoming a singer. She earned her living all by her own self. She did not have to ask anyone for money by pursuing music.

Amrita’s first earnings

She earned Rs 6,500 a month by working in the Nepali Dohori Sajha in New Bus Park. This was the first income of his life. After spending a month in that dohori, she was offered a job in the Myagdi dohori in Gongabu with a monthly salary of Rs 10,000.  She worked for that dohori for seven months. After that, she worked for the Chandani dohari in the Bus Park for a year. While working in the dohori, she got an opportunity to go to Qatar. Amrita went to Qatar for the first time to receive the ‘Himalayan International Award’. She visited Qatar for the first time at the invitation of the Myagdi Prabasi Samaj, Qatar. So far, she has got the opportunity to go to Qatar twice. She also received the ‘Chhaya Chhabi Teej Award’ and the ‘Music Khabar Music Award’ while working in the same dohori. She did not miss her home as she met Nepalis everywhere in the foreign land. In 2019, she flew to Japan on the initiative of the Gaire Samaj, Japan. Amrita, who went to Japan to take part in a Teej programme, stayed there for 15 days. During her stay in Japan, she participated in various musical programmes.

She thinks that if she could travel to many countries, she would perform Nepali songs and music there. There are hardship and struggles abroad. She thinks that there is good opportunity in Nepal when one works hard. In Nepal, she reached from Jhapa in the east to Pyuthan in the west in course of taking part in musical programmes.

Amrita is fond of folk songs

Amrita is fond of folk songs. She sings and listens to folk songs. Myagdi is famous for folk songs like ‘Salaijo’, and ‘Yanimaya’, ‘Sorthi’ (traditional cultural dance), and ‘Panchaibaja’ (folk musical instrument). However, it is not like before. She also likes to sing ‘Salaijo’, and ‘Sheerphul’ very much.

Amrita recorded the first song with her brother. The first recorded song she sang was ‘Dashain, Tihar Manauna’. It was recorded in 2073. After getting a good response, she also recorded other songs. So far, she has got her two dozen songs recorded. Her most popular song is ‘Khainile’. Her other popular songs are ‘Chilgadi’, and ‘Madani’. In the beginning, she would receive peanuts as remunerations calling her a ‘new’ artist. The remunerations would not cover her travel expenses. Later I began to understand. Now the salary is reasonable.

Amrita’s desires

Amrita likes to be quiet and stay in solitude. She prefers to live alone in a quiet environment. She especially likes to visit the rural settings, hilly areas, and mountains. She went to Japan and visited Mount Fuji. That journey is unforgettable for her. She cannot forget the beach and desert safari in Qatar. I want to visit Mustang, Manang in Nepal. I also desire to visit Darjeeling, Sikkim.

In free time

Amrita likes to go to restaurants when she has free time. The taste of Korean food lingers on her tongue. She makes Nepali dishes sweet. She likes to do housework. She likes to watch South Indian movies and listen to songs.

“And you don’t think about getting married?”

“Not now. I am focused on my career,’’ she said. “They say marriage is fixed from heaven. Marriage may take place when time comes.”

She received many love letters when she was in school. She has not forgotten the moment when a boy had written ‘I love you Amrita’ with a sign of love in a paper with his blood from a cut in his hand while she was in grades seven. The love letter was written by a boy a grade junior to her.

“Let’s call him my brother.” She remembered that moment, “I tore the letter and threw it in front of him”. He also wrote ghazals and poems. The poor guy cried.’ She was laughing while narrating this.

“What is the plan for the future?”

She is thinking of getting into music and bringing good songs. She is thinking to dedicate her life to this. She has not thought about any second profession. At present, she is struggling in the federal capital city for the past seven years as a dohori singer. She said that she was earning enough to live in the capital.