A star is born
Sabin Rai is the new pop phenonmenon that has swept the music scene with his second album ‘Sataha’. With songs like “Maya Jalima” and “Timro Naam Timi Bina” he became an overnight hit. Down-to-earth and happy-go-lucky is what he is. Born in 1973 in Dharan to Sanja and Manju Rai, Sabin had a fun childhood. “I was a mischievous boy and loved playing games. But I made it a point to never hurt anyone intentionally.” After completing his School Leaving Certificate, he decided to quit studying.
While on a short visit in 1986 to Brunei, he watched a Michael Jackson concert on TV. He was impressed with Jackson’s stage presence. In 1990, Sabin went to Korea to work. A friend had taken some Narayan Gopal cassettes with him. Sabin had never craved for Nepali numbers before. But once he heard Gopal, he loved the maestro. “The lyrics of many Nepali songs are good and meaningful. Once I was aware of this, I began understanding the importance of songs and lyrics,” shares Sabin.
Sabin didn’t know how to play the guitar yet then and in 1992 when he came back to Nepal, he thought he would to do something worthwhile in his spare time. “Raju Shrestha, a friend played the guitar and I used to pen songs, Deusi and Bhailo numbers! Raju taught me how to play the guitar. I even composed eight songs after that!” Sabin told his mother about his passion for music but she didn’t take him seriously. “My family didn’t believe that I could sing,” he smiles. “My friends told me that I was good. I am still not good with instruments but I can compose and write pretty well.”
In 1997, Sabin went to Dubai. While there, he composed a song “Kripaya”. When he returned to Nepal a few months later, he recorded it and went back to Dubai for a year. By then, music had become more than a hobby. In 2001, his first album ‘Nine’ was released. It went unnoticed. “I faced many hindrances trying to take out ‘Nine’ which I don’t want to think about now. I was fed up to the extent that I was losing hope.” He gave his first autograph to a fan in Rajbiraj at a concert after ‘Nine’ was released. Any memories? “Well, I am sure that he liked my style and that was why he asked me for my autograph not because he had heard ‘Nine’. I was totally confused about what to write when I gave him my autograph.”
That phase passed like a bad dream. With the release of his second album ‘Sataha’ in 2003 he became a full-fledged pop star. The music video from this album — “Maya Jalima” and “Timro Naam Timi Bina” — worked magic to promote him even further. People began comparing him with Bryan Adams and he has no complaint about this. “Everyone has their own opinion and if they think so, it is okay with me.” When he sang the Bryan Adams’ hit “The Only Thing” at the ‘Mega Live Concert’ presented by TAAL Music on May 22 at Birendra International Centre, it convinced everyone! “I went through a difficult period when ‘Nine’ was released. ‘Sataha’ has proved my capability,” says Sabin. He says that he had institinctively felt it would do well.
“I made it a point that nothing would be lacking. My hard work and dedication paid off this time,” he says with a chuckle. The recognition he has earned has directed his life into a new mode. He smiles as he tells us, “My lifestyle has changed to some extent. Yesterday, people didn’t know me and I was carefree but now I have to think of how I walk and talk. I believe this fame is temporary. I am new and I my singing is different so people notice me. Tomorrow there will be another star. I think everyone has his turn. Right now, I am enjoying the attention.”
Sabin and wife Nisha have two daughters — Tiamo and Dayleemo. Is the hype and publicity interfering his personal life? He says, “My wife is not really into music and so far she has never commented on my work. She understands my passion for music. Nisha is very supportive and whenever I am writing lyrics in my room she leaves me alone so that I may create better work.” How is Sabin Rai the singer different from Sabin Rai, the husband and father? He gushes, “I am a singer and the public judges me. I would always want them to accept me. As a husband, I love my wife truly and deeply. After all, we have been married for 10 years now and as a father, I would expect my daughters to understand their parents, to be content, hardworking and patient!”