“…as the eyelids droop closing upon world…to the distant strains of music thats yours…i drift across the hills of kasauli…the long and unending roads of nowhere…the ghats of benaras….the melas of kenduli…the mists of cherrapunji…the madai melee of the lal matir desh…the backstreets of the old moffusil towns with no pavements….maybe the parisian walkways…as the trumpet bellows…the flute flows…and the sarangi sings…your music becomes you….and i lose myself once again……”
He was not allowed to pursue music as a career, though his ancestors were “gainees” – the wandering minstrels who roamed the Nepali heartland singing praises of the king, queen and the generals while strumming their fingers on a small bow shaped stringed musical instrument – the sarangi. His father while training other students to tune the sarangi, wanted him to take up a practical career. Kiran Nepali decided otherwise, he wanted to follow his father’s footsteps, and that he did.
Kiran Nepali the man behind the “Project Sarangi” is a globetrotting musician with the Nepali folk band named “Kutumba” and a third generation sarangi player in his family. His sole aim and belief in life is to revive and showcase the folk music of Nepal to his countrymen and to the world. When he saw that the cultural musical identity of the Nepalis- the sarangi was being slowly pushed towards oblivion with the diminishing number of musicians playing this instrument, Project Sarangi took birth. It is an idea and an initiative to revive the lost sarangi and its cultural identity. In the words of the founders Project Sarangi wants to “make the Sarangi cool again” and they have surely done that by playing cool western numbers on the Sarangi. So be it John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” or the ubiquitous “Despacito” these tunes on the Sarangi are providing a strong connect with the younger generation.
Founded in the year 2012 with humble beginnings at Kiran’s home in Kirtipur, presently the Project Sarangi has a full fledged office and training centre at Lalitpur, Kathmandu. Sarangi training classes are conducted here as well as on online platforms. The project also has a manufacturing unit where the traditional sarangis are made from single blocks of wood. Kiran started the project by standardising the instrument with regards to its size and then later upgraded the same by replacing the animal hair strings with nylon ones. Once the sarangi was upgraded, the project started providing formal training to school children, professional musicians as well as new learners. Till date more than fifty musicians have been trained in this traditional art and each one of the trainees vows to make the sarangi a cool instrument in order to revive a dying art.
The Project Sarangi also organises musical events and folk soirées, “The Jamarko” being a yearly free event held in Kathmandu, attend one of these musical evenings and be assured that that you can hear the sarangi not only playing tunes evoking emotions but also singing the songs of the lost souls of yesteryears.
P.S: Kiran and the Project Sarangi wants a revolution, they not only work towards reviving the sarangi but they also want to break the caste barriers of limiting only one particular community to playing the Sarangi!