Nepali TV star Suraj Singh Thakuri sets sights on global expansion after 24 years in the spotlight

Renowned television personality, Suraj Singh Thakuri, has been gracing Nepali television screens for almost 24 years now. His journey began at the young age of 20 when he hosted a show on Nepal Television in 2000, presented by “Divya Drishti Television.” Throughout the past two and a half decades, he has consistently shone in the spotlight of the Nepali television sector.

At present, Suraj Singh Thakuri is visiting the USA, and during his stay in New York, he graciously shared insights into his past achievements, his current endeavors, and his plans for the future with us.

Curiosity about a different style of show

“In the beginning, only very formal language was used while watching television. Informal language spoken by common people was not used on television. I was very curious about the use of vernacular language on television. When I started running programs, I chose to use the informal language spoken by common people instead of the traditional formal language,” recalled Suraj, reflecting on the early days of his television career.

In the year 2000, Nepal’s first television, Nepal Television, aired his program on Saturdays from 9 am to 9:30 pm, and it became very popular. At that time, there were many standards for conducting programs on government television. Therefore, after almost a year, he chose to work with the private sector television and started running various entertainment programs on Channel Nepal from 2001. At one time, he hosted three shows, including “Music and More,” “On Demand,” and “Tea Talk” on Channel Nepal.

Popularity earned through ‘Call Kantipur’

When he joined Kantipur Television in 2003 and started hosting the live program called “Call Kantipur,” his popularity soared along with the program. Prior to that, there was no musical program in the Nepali television world that took live phone calls. Suraj Singh Thakuri set a new trend in the Nepali television world through this program, and many other televisions and program presenters followed suit. His television program played a significant role in increasing the overall TRP of Kantipur Television.

He hosted this program for almost 10 years until 2013. The show was so popular that a student even did a master’s thesis on it at Tribhuvan University. Suraj’s television show “Call Kantipur” became a highly anticipated platform for many famous celebrities in the current Nepali music field. Following the completion of a music video, it used to take several months before its premiere on ‘Call Kantipur.’ The music video premieres on ‘Call Kantipur’ were known for their distinctive brand and authenticity.

High-profile individuals and celebrities used aliases to participate in ‘Call Kantipur’

Balen Shah, the current mayor of Kathmandu, was once a regular viewer of “Call Kantipur.” Balen openly acknowledged this fact during a television show and even interacted with “Call Kantipur” as an ordinary audience member by making a call and engaging in a conversation. Suraj recalls, “Even high-ranking and famous people used to call live television shows by changing their names. Some viewers participated in the program more than 100 times by continuously calling.”

During periods of high viewer demand, getting a line on the phone became challenging as a large number of callers attempted to connect simultaneously. Nevertheless, despite the difficulty in getting through due to the overwhelming number of callers, Suraj extended a personal invitation to a dedicated viewer who had persistently participated in the program through continuous calling for 50 times. This enthusiastic participant had dialed in 50 times before being invited as a guest for the second time on the show.

During his time hosting “Call Kantipur,” Suraj amassed dozens of intriguing anecdotes. Additionally, the show organized a fortunate draw event, where the audience was gratified with gifts worth 10 million rupees through the lucky draw. The lucky draw winners received gifts such as cars, phones, houses, bikes, mobiles, and gold. The show was so popular that when Suraj visited Saudi Arabia, the crowd of spectators couldn’t be contained, and security personnel had to intervene.

While hosting “Call Kantipur” for almost 10 years, Suraj had several co-hosts over time. Prasidika Rayamajhi, Priti Sitoula, Malvika Subba, Manavi Dhakal, Sarita Gyawali, Akesha Bishta, and others co-hosted the show with him. Two Miss Nepal winners will also be co-hosting the show alongside him, along with other beauty pageant titleholders from Nepal.

Suraj, who served as a senior producer during that era, reminisces, “The viewers of ‘Call Kantipur’ from those days are now scattered all across the globe. Whenever I meet them, they fondly recount their childhood memories of tuning in to ‘Call Kantipur’ in the evenings after returning from school. It fills me with nostalgia as well. The audience was like an extended family to me.”

Moving from entertainment to social issues

After 2014, Suraj started focusing on social issues in the programs he hosted. Along with shows like “Ghumgham,” “Native Tunes,” and others, he began addressing social issues in his programs. From 2014 to 2016, he hosted a program that raised awareness about social issues. During this time, he also began speaking out against social distortions and anomalies in Nepal. He created programs that shed light on evil practices, including witchcraft. Interestingly, a few days after he filmed a television show about the risk of earthquakes in Nepal, a powerful earthquake struck the country in 2015, claiming thousands of lives. This program played a crucial role in raising social awareness about accidents, disasters, and more.

In 2018, along with his role as an executive producer at Kantipur Television, he hosted a program named “It’s My Show,” which also contributed significantly to driving social change. In one episode, he brought acid attack victim Muskan Khatun to the program and highlighted the urgent need for stricter laws and punishments against acid attacks. Muskan’s appearance on the show caught the attention of the then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who invited her to discuss the issue and subsequently issued an ordinance to regulate the sale of chemicals and punish criminals involved in acid attacks. Muskan Khatun, who survived an acid attack, was later honored with the prestigious International Courageous Woman Award by the US government in 2021. She was also invited to a program at the White House on International Women’s Day in 2023, attended by US First Lady Jill Biden and United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Apart from amplifying the voices of marginalized communities, Suraj utilized his platform to advocate for the rights of the LGBTI community. He extended invitations to guests like Bhumika Shrestha, providing them with an opportunity to speak about their rights and experiences. Bhumika’s remarkable advocacy efforts led to her being honored with the International Courageous Women Award by the US government in 2022. Furthermore, she was invited to a reception at the White House in 2023, graced by the presence of US First Lady Jill Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Suraj also featured a television show about a girl victim from Kavre who was repeatedly raped by her own grandfather and father. The program brought national attention to this issue and sparked a national debate. The victim received help, and the court sentenced her father, who was convicted of rape, to 20 years in prison. Raksha Nepal, run by Menuka Thapa, played a crucial role in providing justice and shelter to the girls.

The social issues highlighted by Suraj while hosting “It’s My Show” on Kantipur Television until 2022 made a significant contribution to social change. He also created many segments focusing on mental health. The show featured interviews with famous American artist Wyclef Jean, renowned fashion designer Prabal Gurung, eL Sid, and other prominent figures. The overwhelming popularity of “It’s My Show” was such that nearly 70 percent of Kantipur Television’s YouTube channel was dominated by its episodes, and certain episodes even managed to amass an impressive 15 million views individually. During this period, Suraj played a pivotal role as the broadcasting in-charge for Kantipur Television.

A revolution in sports broadcasting, including directing and acting

Suraj Singh Thakuri’s versatility goes beyond his role as a television program presenter or producer. He is also an accomplished actor and model, having graced both movies and music videos with his presence. Remarkably, he has directed numerous music videos himself, showcasing his multifaceted talent. Suraj’s acting prowess is evident in various movies, while he has participated in over two dozen music videos as well as directed an impressive count of more than 150 music videos.

His journey into the realm of music videos commenced in 2006, during a time when this art form was just gaining momentum in Nepal. Not stopping there, Suraj has also captivated audiences as the Master of Ceremonies in over 200 well-received programs. Moreover, he has held the esteemed position of being a brand ambassador for renowned brands, including the likes of Coca-Cola. His extensive repertoire of skills and accomplishments truly exemplifies his dynamic presence in the entertainment industry.

In addition to his accomplishments as an actor, model, and director, Suraj has been a trailblazer in revolutionizing sports broadcasting in Nepal. His journey in the field of sports broadcasting commenced in 2016, and by 2018, he had already brought about significant changes and improvements. Suraj played a crucial role in popularizing live Nepali sports coverage, contributing to its growth and recognition.

Presently, Suraj Singh Thakuri holds the position of a consultant at Nepal’s Himalaya TV. Notably, he also serves as the project head and anchor for the fifth season of the esteemed show “Roadies,” further cementing his reputation as a versatile and influential figure in the entertainment and sports industry of Nepal.

Discovering international horizons while adorned with honors and awards

Suraj Singh Thakuri, a pioneer and trailblazer in the Nepali television industry, has received numerous awards and honors for his contributions. In 2023, he was honored with Nepal’s prestigious “Prabal Jana Sewa Shree Medal” by the President of Nepal, Ramchandra Paudel, in recognition of his role as a communicator and media personality.

He was also recognized with the “Chief of Army Commendation Badge” in 2018 and received the “Best Music Video Director” award three times at the Vindhyavasini Music Awards. In 2022, he was honored with the “Best Music Video Director” award at the Jeevant Nepal Music Video Awards. He won the “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” award for his performance in the movie “Nai Nabhannu La 2” at the INFA Film Awards held in Hong Kong a decade ago. Additionally, he has received dozens of other honors and commendations.

Suraj’s presence in the judge panel of Prostyle Manhunt International, responsible for selecting Nepali contestants for the prestigious Manhunt International competition for male models, highlights his involvement in the modeling industry. Not only that, but he has also served as a judge in various beauty contests, drawing upon his impressive 24-year experience. His exceptional journey has garnered extensive coverage from popular and national media outlets, making him a well-known figure in Nepal.

Throughout his career, Suraj has shared his experiences through interviews on mainstream Nepali Television and has gained popularity through his appearances on various podcasts. His life has become the subject of numerous cover stories featured in well-known Nepali media outlets such as Kantipur, Kathmandu Post, Family Magazine, Wave, Navyata, Travel Times, Folio Magazine, Nari Magazine, and others, where countless articles about him have been published, showcasing his achievements and contributions to the entertainment industry.

Despite already achieving national trailblazer status, Suraj Singh Thakuri’s ambitions extend far beyond. He expresses, “Now, I aspire to take my endeavors to a global level. My goal is to share the skills and experiences I’ve gained over 24 years with a global audience. We are determined to broaden our horizons in sports broadcasting and content creation on an international scale.”