Prem Dhoj Pradhan was born in 1938 at Chautara, a small town 28 Miles east of Kathmandu. Brought up by his mother in an environment where music was synonymous with meaningful living, Prem Dhoj grew up to love it. His mother, Mrs. Pran Devi, taught him first lessons of music. He went to school for eight months in 1954 with the late Mr. Ganesh Lal. It was from Nepal's laureate of music that Prem Dhoj learnt fundamentals of classical music. However, Prem Dhoj remains a self-educated artist, for he takes music both as discipline and relaxation. His musical career has, therefore, been a stretch of deep search for self-expression, relieved only by constant practice and cultivation invariably culmination in a string of enduring numbers. In 1953, Prem Dhoj was barely sixteen when he participated in a voice test sponsored by Radio Nepal. Since his enthralling performances with songs like A "maun nisha ka tara ho" or " O chhu galli thaw chhu galli" Prem Dhoj became the most sought-for artist by organizers of cultural programmes. It seemed as if Prem Dhoj's songs had lent self-expression to turbulent inner urge of a whole generation of Nepalese youth. The young artist was, however, groping for adequate style and technique that would help in the flowering of his musical talents. Even up to 1959 he was vacillating between group songs of popular patriotic strain (inaugurated by song like "yo Nepali Shir Wuchali") and love-lorn melody of romance bereavement. In 1961 Prem Dhoj was physically compelled to stop singing as a non-malignant growth of polyp was detected in his left vocal cord. After a successful operation he refrained for two years from his absorbing pre-occupation. This was sort of landmark for his career, for it gave time to turn inward and search within. It was a landmark, first, because during the forced interval Prem Dhoj discovered the guitar and made it, after constant practice, a part if his new style, and secondly because it was only after the operation that Prem Dhoj started recording his songs in earnest. With fresh areas if inspiration in store, Prem Dhoj had barely re-emerged on local musical scene when he was awarded a prize for the best voice in all Nepal modern songs Competition in 1963. That was for his unageing hit, "Goreto tyo gaunko". After having achieved a distinct technical surety Prem Dhoj inaugurated a series of brilliant and successful recordings. It was in autumn 1963 that his first ever discs (two 78 r.p.m.'s with hit numbers like "goreto tyo gaunko", "Maya na mara mayalu" and "Timi aayo mero dil ma") were recorded. By the end of 1969 he had already recorded 32 songs almost all to his credit. The intensity if his devotion to Nepali music, no less than the degree of success in it, can be measured only when one realizes that since 1959 he has been working 40 hours a week in Kathmandu U.S.I.S office to scrape a living, while at the same time, attending and evening college, he had very creditably graduated in arts in 1967. More important than either, a devoted artiste like Prem Dhoj had, for quite some time, no one to sponsor his recordings so that out of sixteen discs he has so far recorded eleven were done at his own financial risk and involvement. Prem Dhoj has, thus dedicated himself to Nepal Music, not by flirting with it like an unoccupied amateur, but by literally investing in it his blood and sweat over and above his talents. Towards the closer of 1964 Prem Dhoj recorded another group of ten songs-eight in Nepali and two in Newari . Altogether he has recorded six songs in Newari-his first language, out if which there are well-Known folk songs of Kathmandu's festive and frolicsome Newari. His songs like "Rajamati kumati " have won Prem Dhoj a lasting place in the heart of his people. The new trend set by this group of songs both in Nepali and Newari shows Prem Dhoj as an artiste increasingly drawn towards a rich musical synthesis between Nepal's traditional folk and pastoral style and modern romantic style. Like the snows behind the sub -Himalayan relief, the idyllic natural landscape is almost always present as a backdrop in Prem Dhoj's hunting melodies. In number after number he attempts finer variation on the eternal theme of 'composing woeful ballads to his mistress's eyebrow'. Love - it's solitude, nostalgia and endless complaints against the coyness if idyllic beauty are fused with a deep attachment to Nepal's soil, and her enchanting pastoral landscape so that a love-song by Prem Dhoj ceases to be a mere love-song. The lyrics of M.B.B Shah, Ravindra Shah, Kiran Kharel, Ratna Shumshere Thapa and Ratna Lal Shrestha are his favourites, and his mellow and refined voice invests their lyric idiom with a cool, bracing and subtle rhythm. No wonder that in November, 1965 Prem Dhoj was invited by the celebrated Indian music director Jaidev to accompany Usha Mangeshker in a duet for the Nepali film, Maiti Ghar. Prem Dhoj's duet with Usha, composed by Jaidev, is a classic of it's kind in Nepali, particularly for it's lyrical atmosphere of romance. It was, however, his last group if sixteen songs (12 Nepali and 4 Newari) in eight 78 r.p.m. discs that firmly established Prem Dhoj among Nepal's leading modern singers. In this group there is distinct trace of deep sadness and deeper shadows beginning with songs like "Yo masuam udas" and resolving in the tragic expectancy of "Yo Janam ma vet na bhaya". But Prem Dhoj continues with his native strain if woodnotes wild and romantic, coy and pastoral in an intricate mingling if guitar and madal, jhyaure and shayari. The continuous search, it seems, is for making the folk musical idiom new. This search continued in the group of ten songs recorded here in this first LP by Prem Dhoj. Each number is an experiment of it's own kind on bar five instruments which he uses in all the numbers alike. While he does not abandon his dear old loves-flute, madal and guitar, he makes a very subtle use of saxophone and the electronic organ as well. The new departure is not so much in the use of these distinctly sophisticated instruments: it is in the increasing abandonment and intensity if passionate complaints against the generous cruelty of both nature and the Pastorl Beauty. In his obstinate adoration of both Prem Dhoj bumps in yet another disc-full of hit songs. By DR, Kamal P Malla.
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