Sanjeev Singh Rana: Making music that matters
Sanjeev Singh Rana, a 39-year-old Nepali pop and contemporary singer completes a decade in the music industry. In all these years, he has always allocated a part of his income to charitable causes. Rana is affiliated with various musical institutions including the National Lok Dohori Association in Tanahu. He is also the joint secretary of the Kathmandu-based National Musician Association.
He attributes his passion for music to his mother, who always used to hum songs of renowned Nepali artists like Aruna Lama and Tara Devi. It captivated him and sparked his interest in music. Rana has also always been an ardent admirer of the legendary Narayan Gopal. “I was inspired by him because of which I used to take part in singing competitions during my school days,” he says.
After school, he spent seven years training in music. He wanted to hone his skills. And he did. He won the ‘Western Star Singing Competition’ in 2009. Two years later, he launched his first album, ‘Bhavishya’ following which many opportunities started coming his way. Life post the launch was a flurry of concerts and performances at fairs and festivals all over Nepal. He also participated in many international tours.
Rana is known to have a charismatic presence on stage. The audience is enthralled by the ease with which he performs. Humbly accepting the compliments, he credits Rajesh Pal Rai as his inspiration for interactive stage performances. “I watched Rai perform and saw how engaged the audience was and learned from that,” he says.
Immersed in musical pursuits, it was only natural that he gradually got more involved in songwriting and music composition. Entering the field independently without any connections, he says, “It was challenging to make a name in the industry but I kept at it and have been able to make a mark.”
He has achieved a level of recognition and fame but he believes all that can be fleeting if he doesn’t respect his craft. “In an ever-evolving music landscape, staying competitive and remaining at the forefront of the audience’s minds are things you have to work on every single day,” he says.
Rana reminisces about the days when Caller Ring Back Tone (CRBT) services were quite popular. Over 100,000 people chose to set his songs as their CRBT. It was a huge morale boost, one that gave him the confidence to keep making music despite the challenges. Now, the number of views his songs get on YouTube and other social media is how he judges his popularity. “Audience response is extremely important for me. I will keep making music as long as people appreciate my work,” he says.
Apart from singing and songwriting, he has also been a part of many music videos. In 2012, ‘Dhan Magey Ta Chaina’ brought him recognition and the desire to explore this facet of music as well. The success was followed by other popular music videos, including ‘Maile Maya Layeko’, ‘Ae Mero Maya Fulbutte Jama’, ‘One Two One Two Ma Pani Janchu’, ‘Timle Jastai Dhatna Janey’, and ‘Timro Profile’ among others.
His songs, he confesses, are written specifically for events, concerts, and stage performances. The music has folk elements and delves into the realities of love and romance in Nepali society. When creating music, he is determined to establish a connection between the story and the musical tone. So, he doesn’t include his own stories in his songs. Instead, he carefully observes and gathers elements of romance, love, and relationships to tell relevant stories. He believes it will help his work resonate with the audience. In the pop genre, the focus is on providing entertainment.
However, he is open to following new music trends and doesn’t want to confine himself to a particular genre. “The Nepali music industry is currently grappling with increasing levels of explicit content and nudity,” he says, adding he remains committed to his core values of producing songs that are emotionally charged as well as entertaining.
Rana isn’t only involved in music but has a philanthropic side to him as well. He believes he must support those in need as much as he can. “I want to and have been contributing a part of my earnings to some important causes,” he says. He has been actively involved in charitable works, assisting disabled students in special schools, elderly individuals in local nursing homes, and other marginalized groups facing various health challenges.
In recognition of his dedicated contributions to the music industry, he has received several awards, including the Sagarmatha Award, Jaya Prapti Award, Quality Entertainment Award, and Natyaswar Award. In the future, aside from romantic pop songs, he wishes to create patriotic songs with impactful messages. He also wants to sing in other local languages to bring about a sense of connectivity between different communities of Nepal while promoting diversity in the music industry.
For as long as he can sing and perform, Rana says he is committed to entertaining audiences and is determined to establish a legacy of producing songs free from explicit content. He also hopes that his philanthropic pursuits will serve as a model for other artists, encouraging them to engage in charitable work too.
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