“I am always looking for opportunity,” says Ashra Kunwar who was the only Nepali representative with her band at the World Youth Theatre 2022 in Egypt, held in the month of January. “Ashra Kunwar and the Parables was the only representative not only from Nepal but from the entire Asian region,” Ashra quickly adds. The band was also the only rock band featured.
The World Youth Theatre brings together promising young people from across the globe to present their talent and express their culture through a variety of activities that include music, acting, stand-up comedy, painting and dancing. It was launched during the 2018 WYT, and has been a great success ever since. This year, the World Youth Theatre was held under the slogan: “Arts and culture are part of development and are a human right”.
At 27, Ashra is on the roll. She is a singer, song writer, environmentalist and research scientist. She is also the founding member of a progressive alternative rock band called ‘Ashra & The Parables’.
In Egypt Ashra performed some of her songs as well as held collaborative performances with artistes from different countries. “I especially learnt Arabic to be able to communicate with the audience during the stage performance and also for the collaborative song called Standing Now As One which was dedicated to the world as a message of resilience during the pandemic,” she shares.
Ashra was also one of the opening song artistes at the event. “It was a collaborative approach with different artistes from four countries – Egypt, Paraguay, Russia and Cameroon,” she adds. Together they performed on Back Together. With this achievement, Ashra’s music and reach has gone global.
Talking about her originals, Ashra and her band made the audience tap their feet to Aabash and Bodhibrikshya. “Performing amidst a crowd of 6,000 was magical. I saw people enjoying my Nepali numbers though the language was alien to them,” says an excited Ashra.
The rock singer is also known to experiment with her style and during her performance in WYT in Egypt, she made sure that she had strong elements of the Nepali culture represented in her wear. “I wanted to wear a Nepali design with a touch of Western glamour,” says Ashra. Dressed in Nepali Dhaka gown with a black corset, the rock star was a head turner during the event. Her stage look was custom designed by the talented Manish Rai.
This is not the first time that Ashra was invited to WYT. She was first invited in 2019. “I got to know about WYT during my days in Voice of Nepal where the response to my music was overwhelming,” says Ashra who was among the finalists in the music reality show Voice of Nepal.
During her college days, Ashra also formed an all-girls band. Later, the members parted ways and the Nepali rock singer formed Ashra and the Warlords which she soon renamed to Ashra Kunwar and The Parables. “My songs are always inspired by stories and hence the name Ashra Kunwar & The Parables became the best fit,” she smiles.
Ashra aims to talk about the environment through her music and contribute to healing the world in some way. The idea, she explains, is to use performing arts to spread awareness about environmental issues.
Her music, she says, now has an opinion. “Working with people with different ideologies, having discussions, playing with ideas has helped me gain confidence in what I do,” she informs.
Ashra plans to pursue a PhD in wildlife in the coming days.