Translation By : Dipti Serchan
Singer and musician Mitra Sen Thapa is a renowned figure in the field of literature, music, art and culture. His hard-work and contributions to music is still widely talked about even today. During his time, when the music scene of Nepal was overshadowed by Bollywood music, the tunes he created then holds a significant chapter in the history books. His works will never be forgotten and the gratitude of every Nepali cannot be defined in words.
Mitra Sen Thapa was born on December 27, 1895 to constable Manbir Sen Thapa Magar and Radha Thapa in the surrounding locality of Bhagsu Totarani, Himalchal Pradesh, India. His father was employed at the First Gurkha Rifles and was very much into music. This in turn had a profound influence on his son -- Mitra Sen Thapa.
As the financial situation of his family was not very good, soon after receiving his School Leaving Certificate, Mitra Sen Thapa also followed in the footsteps of his father and joined the army--The First Gorkha Rifles. Together with his army postings, he was also able to work on his interest...music. And in the process, started singing Nepali numbers. During that time, there were wars all over the world. Due to this, as duty called for it, for a period of over four years he was fighting in the battlefields. As time passed by he was getting disillusioned with wars. He was interest more on social work but he was not permitted to leave the army. He resorted to various excuses to withdraw from the army and finally, succeeded in doing so!
After quitting the army, he started giving more time to his family and for a living, started operating a canteen for army men. At that time, he started writing songs which spoke about the way the army people led their lives. One number which relates the life of army men, which was written by him called "Lahurey Ko Reli Mai Fashionai Ramro Rato Rumal Reli Mai Khukuri Bhirey Ko..." was and still is an anthem among the servicemen. Mitra Sen Thapa used to sing bhajans, folk and modern songs and in the process motivated and encouraged other singers to give continuity to their singing careers. Besides singing, he also had a deep interest in writing literature. So as to take his music and literature forward together he even opened up an institution -- 'Himalayan Theatrical Company'. Through this company, the plays he had written and directed were pretty popular then. This acted as a platform for his numerous songs and was not hesitant to showcase them whenever his company used to organize a play. It was during that time that he was honored with the title of a Master.
Though Mitra Sen Thapa was born and raised up in India, his forefathers were from Nepal. His grandfather Sundra Thapa Magar was also an army man and was stationed at Kagada Killa during war, the whole family migrated to India. He received his education there but there was never a moment when he didn't think of his homeland and in 1933, he came back to Nepal.
After coming to Nepal, he started working on developing his knowledge in art and culture. He started putting all his energies into music and theatre. The luminaries then, poet Shiromani Lekhnath Poudel, Natya Samrat Bal Krishna Sama and Maha Kabi Laxmi Prasad Devkota were very impressed with his work. We still hear his masterpiece "Malai Khutrukai Paryo Jethan Timro Bahini Ley..." on various FM stations. Besides this particular song, his other works (composition, lyrics and vocals) include "Dhanko Bala Jhulyo Hajur..." and "Abata Jau Kanchi Ghar" among others.
Master Mitra Sen Thapa got married when he was very young to Kala Wati Thapa when he was around 16 years old. However, after joining the army, he had to leave his wife at home. After quitting the army and tentatively four years after spending time with his family -- his wife and his three children expired due to haija. This incident devastated Master Mitra Sen Thapa. He was left with no one to call his own except his mother. When he was 30 years old, because of his mother's continuous nagging he married the 20 year old Laj Wanti Thapa. When going through his history, it is only after his second marriage that he was at his best. He formed 'Gurkha Sat Sangh Pracharini Sabha'. His son Digbijaya Sen Thapa was born during that period.
In the latter years of his life, with the intention of working for the development of music of Nepal, he started traveling. After coming back from his long trips, he saw that the family he had left behind was going through hard times financially. Because of this, he started a business of milk products and Sidra productions. He had just started his business, it had not even been 15 days when he died. He expired on April 7, 1946. Master Mitra Sen Thapa is no more among us but the foundation he laid for the development of music has been followed by many newcomers. The Music industry of Nepal and Nepal in general will never be able to pay back the debt. We will be always be obliged.