They might not be related, but Kali Prasad Baskota and Almoda Uprety have been working together like close siblings
Jalaima, the theme song for the upcoming Nepali film, Resham Filili, is currently a smash hit on YouTube. The track has already garnered 517,471+ views after going online on 15 January.
The credit for the composition and arranging goes to two individuals who, as it turns out, refer to each other as “brothers.” In this case, Almoda Uprety and Kali Prasad Baskota are the younger and older siblings respectively.
“I first met Kali dai at Do Re Mi Studio in Jamal during a recording session,” says Uprety. Baskota listens to him with a smile. “At first I thought he was older, but was taken aback when I found out that he was quite young!” adds Uprety. Upon this, Baskota’s smile widens.
Kali Prasad Baskota started his career as a music composer, singer, and arranger almost a decade ago. A few significant compositions and arrangements of his, so far, are Sanup Poudel’s Timro Deshma, Hemanta Rana’s Laijare, and an entire album for Seema Sangraula, of which he was the lyricist and composer. The other work that got him attention in the media was the background and theme music for the television series, Hamro Team.
However, Baskota’s first break composing music and songs for the local movie industry took place when director Ganesh Dev Pandey—previously a Mumbai-based Indian TV serial director—approached him for a project titled Malati Ko Bhatti. The next that followed from Pandey, and included Baskota, was Manjari. “Others in my repertoire include Visa Girl, Mukhauta, Shree Paach Ambare, and, of course, Resham Filili!” he says.
After being involved with Kripa Unplugged as an in-house musician, Almoda Uprety has his workstation at the same floor where Kripa’s head office and recording studio is located. He is an Ethnomusicology graduate from Kathmandu University’s faculty of music and, besides solo projects, has played in bands such as 7th Gravity, a progressive rock outfit, and the acclaimed black metal act, Cruentus.
One of Uprety’s most recent projects was arranging music for Ke Yo Maya Ho (sung by Hercules Basnet), which appeared in the teen drama, Jerryy. The video for the song has garnered a fair number of views on YouTube so far.
The ideas of these two composers clicked almost instantly after they met. Within a few sessions experimenting with their music at Baskota’s studio in Bagbazar, they decided to work together as a team.
Today, the “brothers” have a unique amalgamation of musicianship as a result of sharing their creativity, working space, and ideas for about a year. This is quite evident with the success of Jalaima. “I had found a certain musical depth in the songs that Kali dai had composed for Manjari, which is why I was more than exited to work with him on Shree Paach Ambare and Resham Filili,” says Uprety, who also claims to have learnt a lot from Baskota regarding the dos and don’ts of the mainstream music scene.
Apart from music, Baskota has a day job at Tilganga Hospital as a robotics engineer. Almoda, besides working at recording studios, also drops by Kasthamandap School to give the students choir and vocal lessons.
So how do these two actually create a song? “For us, spontaneity is the key as we don’t set boundaries in the initial phases,” says Baskota. “There are times when I do the songwriting and composing while Almoda tries out different tunes and sound effects. At times, we both feel that what we are doing at the moment is right and carry on with the finalization of that particular musical part.” The segregation of the verses, choruses, and arrangement is done towards the end when both of them feel that the song is heading where it should.
While describing this process, Baskota praises Uprety for being creative with the sound fill-ups, while Uprety talks positively about Baskota’s songwriting skills. It seems that this appreciation for each other’s work has also contributed to the popularity of their work.
According to them, breaking the boundaries between local and international genres that are currently popular, and offering the audience simple music they can relate to, has been their chief selling point. This is one of the main reasons why listeners have been able to separate their work from the other local composers.
The fact that the music video of Jalaima—sung by Baskota and Somia Baraili—reached more than 3000 organic views on the day it was uploaded to YouTube is proof that Baskota and Uprety’s collective efforts have finally started to be recognized. But both of them believe that artists should focus more on creativity and artistic values instead of going after publicity.
Despite the numerous problems of the mainstream music industry that they shared towards the end of the interview, Kali Prasad Baskota and Almoda Uprety seem to be optimistic about the future, which in a way is a good sign for people who are looking to witness better days for the Nepali music and film industry.