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Mike Khadka: Beloved musician and radio DJ

Mike Khadka: Beloved musician and radio DJ
Most Nepalis who grew up in the 90s are familiar with the name Mike (Mukunda) Khadka. His songs would be played in most radio stations, a major source of music at the time. Khadka’s fan-base was immense. Even today, decades after his first stage performance, he is remembered for his contribution to the Nepali music Industry. Born and raised in Lalitpur, Khadka was fond of music. People close to him say that there weren't any lyrics he could not remember, or music he could not understand. He was mostly known as a rock musician, but his music taste was eclectic. Khadka stepped into the world by learning classical music as a student of Indian musician Rangarao Kadambari. “He had knowledge for every kind of music, be it Nepali, English, Hindi, or Urdu,” says Prakash Sayami, his longtime friend. Maria, Mohammed Rafi, and Narayan Gopal, were among his favorite singers.

In October 1972, Khadka gave his first stage performance, where he sang a number by Elvis Presley. He was discovered by Michael Chand, who used to host musical events at the time. “No one knew Mike at the time, but I invited him to the concert because he was a great singer,” says Chand. “On stage, Mike had the personality of a rock star. He used to wear black most of the time because he wanted to stand out among the crowds.”

Chand and Khadka would go on to become lifelong friends. In his early days as a musician, Khadka went by the name that his parents gave him, Mukunda. Mike was a nickname (a variant of the word ‘mic’) that his friends gave him. It is said that he started being known as Mike when he said during one of his performances, “Without mic, I can’t survive.” In person, Khadka was a reserved yet charming man, says his friends and relatives. Sayami remembers how even legendary Bollywood actor Dev Anand was impressed by Khadka’s personality. “We had an opportunity to attend a dinner program with Dev Anand during his Nepal visit, and he gave Mike his blessings and asked him to sit next to him,” says Sayami. “The incident says a lot about Mike’s amazing personality. Everyone was fond of him.” Besides being a musician, Khadka was also a radio DJ, who was adored by his listeners. He was the founder of Classic FM, a popular radio station. “His heart was always into music, which he showed by either performing and recording songs, or by taking up the job of a radio DJ,” says Chand. Throughout his musical career, Khadka recorded hundreds of Nepali and English songs. He was planning to record some new songs and write a book on music when he passed away aged 69 on 23 February. Khadka was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer in January and was undergoing treatment. “With Mike gone, the Nepali music industry has lost a prominent artist,” says Sayami. “He will be sorely missed by his friends, family, and fans.” Mike is survived by his wife, a son, and four sisters. Birth: 14 Jan 1955, Lalitpur  Death: 23 Feb 2023, Lalitpur