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On sale: Nepali music awards losing worth

A few weeks ago, a singer was approached by the organisers of an award show. At first, the singer who does not want to be named felt the organisers wanted to inform him that he was being nominated for the award. He was ecstatic.

As a young singer, he was quite hopeful that this would be the making of him. But, when he met the organisers, the singer got a harsh taste of reality.

“He told me to pay Rs 15,000 if I wanted to win,” says the singer. “As a relatively new singer, I was tempted. But then, others told me this was how these shows earned money, after which I stopped talking to the organisers. What’s the use of an award when you have to pay for it?”

Music awards have become an everyday affair in Nepal. There is more than one award ceremony every month. On average, nearly two dozen musical awards are hosted every year. This is why, recently, almost every singer, lyricist or musician has one to their name. 

However, in the past year, many have questioned the integrity of these awards, calling them biased and unfair.

Who sells? Who buys?

Some say the organisers try to sell these awards, especially to new singers because they are looking for fame while for others, these awards are just a document which helps them travel to first-world countries. 

Suman Bairagi, who has been hosting award shows for the past nine years, agrees that many have made awards a business. He says many even buy these awards in order to get a visa, especially to the US, as it also helps them when they apply for a green card.

“When we started off, things were different,” says Bairagi. “But, sadly, things are quite dire nowadays. Many want an award just for validation about being in the industry and are prepared to pay money for it.”

He says that this trend has a negative effect on award shows which follow all ethical procedures.

“People have been telling us that even we sell these awards,” says Bairagi. 

Even entertainment journalist Shantipriya, who is a part of the organising team for the Chhaya Chhavi Teej Music Award, agrees that it is right that people are questioning the credibility of these award shows.

“It’s sad that people are buying awards so that it will help them get a green card in the future. It’s very disappointing,” says Shantipriya, who adds that he still does not understand why there are so many award shows happening in the country and adds that it has resulted in a few good award shows being affected negatively.

“There will surely come a time when people will say that a certain singer or a musician bought the award,” he says.

Is it worth it?

Many call a new award in the entertainment industry untrustworthy.

Subas Regmi from Bindabasini Music Award says the nature of the award depends on the people who organise it as a lot is at stake. However, he does agree that the fame or hype of these shows has gone down significantly. But, he says that he started the award to honour, felicitate and support singers.

“We set up a foundation to celebrate these singers,” says Regmi. “We do that because we earn money through them and without them, we don’t exist. When we award them, they get inspired and produce more songs. We want to be a part of this journey, hence this award.”

Singer Pramod Kharel agrees with Regmi and says that award shows are good for singers as it gives them the inspiration to work harder. But, Kharel does add that these award shows must be impartial.

“Credibility is important,” he says, “which is why I don’t fill out forms for these events. I only go when people invite me to come. And, I only accept awards when they give one to me based on my work. Even if I don’t win, I still take part in these shows. Have performed in a few too.”

Kastup Panta, who recently won an award at the National Brand Music Award, says everyone needs to make sure that all award shows have integrity and adds the number of award shows must come down in order to maintain their importance.

But, an organiser of the National Capital Award, Madhav Nirdosh, says more award shows are good as it helps in the preservation of art and artists.

“I understand there are some unethical things happening in the name of award shows, but not all are bad,” says Nirdosh.

Krishna Hari Baral, a lyricist, says it is important to manage award shows in a proper manner as these shows will only make sense if awards are given to those who deserve them.

“If you start handing out awards to anyone, it’ll surely lose its appeal,” says Baral, who also says the main problem is the need to register a song for an award show.

That he says undermines the nature of the show as it is not inclusive. 

“The award shows need to make sure they listen to all kinds of music before organising these shows. Only when they do that will award shows become a bit more impartial and just,” says Baral, who adds that the need to register songs or music should stop and anything released within a certain year should be taken into consideration.

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Nepal is an entertainment correspondent for Onlinekhabar.

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