Kalden Dorji

“As a kid, I’d go to these shops that had TVs and pay Nu.5 to watch a movie. Enjoying it so much, I dreamt of singing and becoming a film director one day. Although people said that I had no talent, that never discouraged me. I kept singing and was thrilled when I composed my first songs at 11.

When social media arrived, I’d send text messages to the movie directors and ask for a chance to sing. Thinking about it now, it was embarrassing. Some directors did respond. The late director Tshering Wangyel agreed to give me a chance and we fixed a date to meet. Praising my talents, I was even asked to add him to his personal WeChat. Sadly, he passed away before I could come to Thimphu. But his forwardness deeply motivated me. In 9th grade, I came to Thimphu to record all my 10 songs. It took a whole day, and my throat was sore from singing. But the joy was immense.

I waited for months and felt dejected when there was no response. The call finally came when Director Karma Jerry had chosen one of my recordings for his movie. I’d earned my first pay cheque from making music and overjoyed, I gave it to my parents. I met a guy on social media who claimed to work in the movies. While watching a movie, a state of shock hit me when I found one of the compositions that I’d sent him. To make matter worse, it was even sung by a famous singer that I adored. When I texted the guy, I never got a response. The incident left me unable to trust people from the films, and with time, I worked on plans to be independent. I participated in Voice of Bhutan and did my best to stand out, even adding dances to my performance. Along with appreciation, I received hateful comments for being bold and ‘overconfident’. After getting eliminated, instead of feeling down and going home, I stayed back and assisted the crews. As a result, I received a scholarship to study in India.

However, the sudden passing of my 12-year-old brother left me depressed and made leaving for college very hard. For months, I kept my sorrows to myself and even watched ted talks and motivational videos to cope with the loss. When the pandemic hit, I returned home and was finally able to focus on my music. This time, I planned on making music videos and my parents rendered full support. I’d look for collaborations but face rejections from other artists and filmmakers. In all this, I’d forgotten that my own sister was a talented singer, and I made her sing for most of my songs. Together, we made a lot of videos and in each other, found our strengths.
Coming from humble backgrounds can be hard to make it as an artist, but there is nothing you can’t achieve with passion and hard work.”

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