One of the most popular husband-wife couple of Nepali music industry is Uday and Manila Sotang couple.
The husband and wife have already released more than 11 albums. Their popular songs are Aadi Bato, Maya Namara, Aaja Timro, Bhijyo Sirani.
Originally from Darjeeling, Udaya and Manila came to Nepal in the late 80s to do voice tests at Radio Nepal. Today, they are some of the most celebrated artists, with huge attendance in concerts. One of Uday’s cousin was a huge fan of late Narayan Gopal. Uday used to sneak into his cousin’s room to practice in the harmonium secretly. Uday started singing early. He sang in his school and there were many fans of his in his school days. He started sining in contests in his grade eight, nine and tenth grade. Before he graduated from the school, the school offered him to release an album called Filingo. He was a successful singer even before he finished his grade ten.
On the other hand, Manila was trained by her uncle, to sing bhajans. When Manila heard Uday’s songs, she liked his voice even before she met him. When she finally met Uday, she was surprised to find him so young. Because of his voice he had expected Uday to be a lot older. They later were in the same group of singers to perform in various events. Uday was having an affair with somebody else when Manila met him. She tried to help him patch up with his girlfriend when they broke up. That instead brought her closer to Uday and they ended up marrying while Uday was studying in Grade 11. By the time he graduated from Grade 12, they already had their first child, Shreya Sotang. Now, Shreya is also a new sensation in the Nepali music industry. Shreya has already released her own album.
Uday Sotang (Jan 10-12 B. 1966)
Manila got into limelight when she got the chance to sing a song in Nepali movie ‘Mayalu’. She says, “I sang only one song for the film, but it sort of propelled me into the limelight and set things off.”
About Uday’s first album Manila says, “I just happened to be listening to one of Udaya’s songs from Filingo, and really liked it, and remember wishing I could meet him in person.”
It was in 1984, Uday and Manila actually met when they were both in grade 11 in a college in Darjeeling. In a short while, they became friends and started performing together in various events.
About his affair and break up, Uday recalls how Manila had tried to help them get together. Uday says, “She’s such a wonderful person, she tried to help me get back together with my ex, but by then it was impossible. Besides, I knew I was already falling for Manila.”
They secretly started having an affair for about two years. They were singing together and were together like before, so none of their friends knew about their feelings. Some were surprised by the news of their marriage. At the time of marriage, Manila was 19 and Udaya was 20. After three years of marriage, they decided to go to Kathmandu on the suggestion of lyricist and singer Bulu Mukarung.
Happily married without any major problem for these long years, they both say they’ve been very lucky to find each other. Manila says, “It’s amazing to find someone who you can share practically everything with. We have the same passions, same ideals and same take on life.”
Uday and Manila’s third album ‘Muskan’ was very successful. Two songs from the album Aadi Bato and Maya Namara are still two of their most popular songs.
Their fourth album ‘Katha’ also was a hit album. The song ‘Aaja Timro Kurachalyo’ had been very popular from their fourth album. From the fifth album, Bhijyo Sirani and Timi Bina Banchna were very popular. From their sixth album, “Hajar Juni Samma” is very popular.
The couple’s seventh album ‘Bhid Dekhi Bahira’ wasn’t as successful as expected. The eight however made it up to their popularity. The album titled Marma, contained hit songs like ‘Chhin Chhin Mai’ and ‘Ukali Chadhaula’
Apart from singing, Udaya and Manila had also run restaurant and music training school. In collaboration with a number of partners they had started Madhusala Restaurant and Bar in Durbarmarg. Apart from food, the duo also perform on regular basis for the guests in the restaurant.
About how they met
Uday: We actually met through music. I used to be in grade 9, when we were having a drama practise. I met Manila at the practise hall through our guru. We used to see each other in programs like that and got talking.
Manila: We were just friends for a long time after that. In fact, I used to give him advice when his girlfriend and him broke up. But then we ended up falling in love instead (laughs).
Favorite thing about each other
Uday: I don’t know; I like everything about her! Not only does she have a moving voice, she is an exceptional housewife too. She is cheerful, kind-hearted and very loving towards me and the children.
Manila: Uday is also a very loving husband and father. He was never harsh with the kids, never raised his voice against them. He tries to understand us instead.
Do you sing for each other?
Uday: Yes, of course! Also, when songwriters approach us with their songs, we only sing the ones that we can relate to in some way, as we think that is the only way the listener will find it relate-able as well. That is probably why we have only sung around two hundred songs in over 20 years of our musical career.
Solo or a duet?
Manila: I love the fact that we share a passion. Its fun doing new things, singing new songs with your partner.
Uday: We prioritize songs written for duets. For example, if we charge 20,000 rupees as a solo vocalist, we just take 25,000 for a duet together, to invite composers to write more duets for us. We want to add more of them to our collection.
Do you Practise together?
Manila: I’m a bit lazy to do my riyaz most of the time. Uday tries to sit me down to practice together, but I get quite bored in a while!
Is it difficult being a couple in the music?
Manila: It was a bit difficult when the children were very young. Both of us needed to perform at shows, go to recordings and practise. We were concerned about our children not getting a lot of time and care from us. But we are blessed with a very supportive family, and Uday and my parents would often babysit them.
Uday: Now, the children are grown up; our youngest is studying in grade 9. We are actually starting to tour internationally now, travel to places we couldn’t go to before. (that was in Feb 2014)
Uday: Music has given the both of us so much respect and love from people. Its given purpose to our entire family. My daughter has already brought out an album and my son is an arranger and a piano teacher. We may not be very rich but we are more than satisfied with our lives as working artists.
How do you deal with conflicts between you?
Uday: We’ve never actually had a serious fight in all of our married life! In the music scene, because we started both our careers together, there were instances of jealousy, maybe insecurities, but we have realized that can be gotten over. We consoled each other, if either of us were feeling like that, and we would look at the bigger picture together. And now that the children are grown up, we take their suggestions and advices well when we need to make any big decisions.
Uday: There are many things to keep in mind, but most importantly, you need to make an effort to keep improving your own self. Respecting and trusting each other is important.
Manila: Its about trying to understand each other, and expressing your love time and again.
Manila: Though its been over two decades that we have been singing together, our plans for the future is to keep doing what we have been doing so far. Music is everything to us. We aren’t much good at anything else.
Restaurant’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Madhushalaktm/
* This biography is prepared based on an article published in The Kathmandu Post in December of 2013 and an interview published in Dreams magazine in February of 2014.