By Ram Khatry, Sydney
13 August 2017
The queen of Nepalese playback singing is poised to enthrall millions of her fans and critics as she releases her first Hindi cover on one of Bollywood’s most loved songs, Tujhse Naraaz Nahin Zindagi. Released in 1983, the ever-popular song was written by Gulzar.
Anju Panta, a Kathmandu-based singer who has over 2.1 million followers on Facebook, hadn’t previously sung any Hindi number, at least not publicly. The three-day-old video released through the singer’s YouTube channel has already wowed tens of thousands of her fans as it slowly picked up hits on Sunday. Ms Panta’s versatility renders the song, originally sung by none other than the legendary Lata Mangeskar, alive and completely mesmerising.
For award-winning music composer Arjun Pokharel of Ma Yasto Geet Gauchhu fame, Anju Panta’s talent is far superior than many well-established singers in contemporary Bollywood. She has the magic of Lata Mangeskar’s voice and Asha Bhosle’s style, and is truly an international-level artiste, he asserted. “I have had the opportunity of listening to Tujhse Naraz Nahi by Anju. As a cover song, she has sung the song with an intensity of feeling which does justice to its lyrics and tune,” Mr Pokharel told a southasia.com.au representative on Sunday.
“Her singing style is amazing and I am a big fan of it. Of course, I have heard her sing Hindi songs before in the course of our work together,” the stalwart of the Nepalese music industry further added. Mr Pokharel and Ms Panta have worked together on a number of occasions including on Ma Yasto Geet Gauchhu of which both lyrics and music were of the former.
Sydney-based singer Ishwor Pokhrel says he is not surprised at Anju Panta’s stunning performance given the quality of her voice and her successful trackrecord as a professional singer. “If Indian singers can sing Nepalese songs then why can Nepalese singers not sing Bollywood songs?” the father of two asked.
Historically, popular Nepalese singers do not publicly sing Bollywood songs given there is always an undercurrent of anti-India sentiment in Nepal. They risk the wrath of their fans if they sing Hindi songs. As such, Ms Panta’s decision to do a cover on the Bollywood song is a “bold step”, said a young Nepalese poet requesting anonymity.
Many credit Anju Panta for shattering Nepalese film producers’ notion that they should approach Bollywood playback singers for Nepalese movie songs. It is generally believed that Ms Panta proved that there was no shortage of singers with that elusive X-factors right there in Kathmandu.
Fans are beginning to leave comments on the singer’s YouTube channel. Raj Kumar said he would “kill the repeat button” while Rabins XP welcomed Ms Panta to YouTube as she is relatively new to the online viewing platform.