State not doing much, future of musicians in limbo ! Tara Bir Singh Tuladhar-Nepalese Sitar Maestro

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How satisfied are you with your career?

-I have attained two important things in life; one fame and another affection. These are the things which have given satisfaction to me. May be had I struggled more, I would have been in a different situation. I have remained honest throughout my life. This has sometimes been a plus point for me; while honesty also hinders the progress sometimes. We have been watching, people from different fields have been honored and encouraged; but musicians are never remembered. I always read names in the newspapers but feel pained that not a single talent from music sector are felicitated.( Showing the newspaper cuttings). My point is can the singers display their talent without us? But can proudly say that we can perform alone ! But one thing sometimes hurts me that I could not earn money. I earned only fame. That is a big part; but the State should also show some responsibility. At this age should I run a shop? The state has not been doing much for musicians. The future of musicians is in limbo. My own Tuladhar community is proud of me. I feel happy when they say we have a famous musician.

Your educational qualification?

-I first did my Bachelors degree in Arts. Then Sangeet Praveen(Master’s Degree in Music) in Sitar with 4th position in first division in 1974 from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad-India.

You played in Radio Nepal too?

-Since 1970 I had been a part of Radio Nepal. Also Nepal Television since 1984. Earlier since 1967, was involved in different orchestra programs. I have also done different recordings. I had also won the first prize in the music competition held in Radio Nepal in 1977. And several others including the best student scholarship from Department of Education in 1969. Also in 1983 had joined the Orchestra department of Royal Nepal Academy.

Have your students taken the professional line?

-Some of them! I feel proud of some students; they are really hard working. But the problem is many don’t take it seriously. Of course if you devote your time sincerely; sitar will bring fame to you. But many don’t see future in it. It is also not their mistake. But if one works hard there is future after hard work.

Were your parents happy?

-Not at all ! We are Tuladhars i.e traders. Our forefathers have been doing commercial work since ages. My father too did the same. I was born in Asan of Kathmandu. But I left the family profession and chose music. In Nepal, art and music is not valued. So they were not very happy with my choice.

So no musicians in the family?

-I was the first to choose the sector. But now there are six members in the family who have done Masters in Music. Both of my daughters teach in PK college. My grand father used to perform ‘Daafa bhajan’ during festive occasions. I used to fondly listen to him. May be that was my starting point for the liking.

Where did you see sitar for the first time?

-I used to see the instrument in television. But for the first time, I saw live at the studio of Radio Nepal. Gita Basnet was playing the sitar. Now she stays in the US.

Why did you choose sitar?

-Yeah, first I learnt vocal at the age of 18. Then I tried tabla. But was not satisfied. Then I tried sitar at the age of 20. My first sitar teacher was Laxmi Narayan Dangol. My second sitar teacher was Narendra Bataju; who was blind. But a brilliant performer. He passed away recently. I also learned sitar from Ganesh B. Bhandari.

Family support ?

-Of course I have; it is difficult otherwise.

Honors received?   

-Manjushree Sangeet Mahavidyalaya-1990, Sanatan Dharma Sewa Samiti-1991, Tribhuwan University Long-term Service Honour-2000, Sadhana Kala Kendra-2004, title of “Sur Bhusan”-Kalanidhi Sangeet Mahavidyalaya-2004, honour from Padmakanya Bahumukhi Campus-2005, honours from three mayors of Italy cities-1991, NEWA organization of America-2009, Shree Kirateshwor Sangeetashram-2008, Natikaji Music Honour-2008, GEMS Honour-2008, GEMS Honour-2009, Atul Memorial Guru Honour-2011 etc.

How many students so far?

-My students have crossed thousand. I taught at Padmakanya College for 32 years, 18 years in GEMS, 18 years in Kalanidhi Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, 12 years in Bhrikuti School and in Department of Music in Kathmandu University since 2008 till date. Also, there are many students whom I trained privately at my residence. The problem is many lose their continuity.

Foreign visits ?

-My foreign journey started from Pakistan in 1979. Then in 1980, I went to Bangladesh, Switzerland, France and Germany. I have visited other countries like Austria, Yugoslavia, Italy, Belgium, Japan, Netherlands, Estonia, USA, China and England.

I have been also involved in charity work as  well. Though they were not my initiation. I had supported them through my art. I performed in Japan in 1995, 1997 and 1998 for the same. That was organized by the Japanese themselves to support a village named Gumera for drinking water, as the people had to walk up to 7 kms. The children missed their school. Also, in the US I had supported a program for the old age home at Devaghat in Chitwan. I performed at different programs for two months in the US without taking a single penny. These are major ones.