Meanwhile, the original Ralfa generation is still active, perhaps more so than the Maoists who came after them. But even they have distanced themselves from politics. As head of a government institution, Raayan is focused on promoting Nepal’s folk art.
Raamesh also shuns political affiliations, even though Ralfa’s songs were used by many political movements: first against the Panchayat, then by the Maoists, who saw them as precursors to their own revolutionary songs, and finally by political parties during the 2006 anti-monarchy protests.
Raamesh is now more active as a children’s song creator. “We sing people’s songs, which speak up for the poor and disenfranchised. If anyone wants to use them for a good cause, they are welcome. But using it for vested political interests is a crime,” he says.
Unlike Maoist songs, Ralfa’s numbers are evergreen because they speak of the larger causes of justice and equality. There is a lesson there in what makes a song endure, while others disappear.
Jeevan Sharma, who established the Raktim Cultural Group, is among the few revolutionary singers who has gone mainstream. “The people always need a voice, and songs that speak truth to power. If they do that, songs do not need to be associated with any political party – they can have a life of their own.”
Sharma’s own song of the life of the disenfranchised, Simali Chhaya ma Basera, has that long shelf-life.