Suraj Singh Thakuri: Breaking barriers and setting new heights in the television industry

Suraj Singh Thakuri has achieved remarkable success as a producer, having successfully created over two dozen popular TV shows and programs spanning various genres, including music, arts, culture, environment, social issues, sports, life, and health.

Suraj Singh Thakuri
Suraj Singh Thakuri is one of Nepal’s most prominent television personalities.

In 2001, Suraj Singh Thakuri found himself standing in front of the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, holding a microphone for the first time. It was an unfamiliar situation for him, as he had never hosted a show before. He wanted to run away but he had given his word to the producers and despite the initial awkwardness, he took on the role of a host, stepping into the world of television.

The show he was hosting, ‘From Me to You’, was a simple one. He had to approach people, speak to them and ask them to dedicate songs to people. This fresh and heartfelt approach resonated with viewers, making the show immensely popular.

“My friends and family called me telling me I was doing great. That uplifted me and made me want to continue it,” says Thakuri at a coffee shop in Kathmandu.

His initial plan was to be in the television industry for just a few years while pursuing his master’s degree in environmental science. However, fate had different plans for him. Thakuri’s journey in television production began to evolve, and he developed a deep passion for the craft. What was initially intended to be a part-time gig turned into an obsession.

For more than two decades, Suraj Singh Thakuri spent his blood, sweat and tears to become the face of television in Nepal. Beginning his career as a television presenter, Thakuri’s remarkable journey is characterised by his dedication, passion and pursuit of innovation. 

In his career, he has experienced every aspect of the television industry. From being a show host to taking on the role of producer and even overseeing everything in the television company he worked for, he has explored and conquered every opportunity that the business has presented him.

“It has been quite the journey. But it is not over yet,” he says.

Brick by brick

Thakuri’s biggest breakthrough in television came with the production of the phone-in show ‘Call Kantipur’ for Kantipur Television. The show was revolutionary for its time and quickly became a massive hit in the country. When the show aired, internet accessibility was limited, and families would gather together to watch the show where Thakuri and his co-host engaged in discussions with people from various backgrounds and addressed a wide range of issues.

The show became so popular that a master’s degree student wrote a thesis on it while musicians lined up to release their music videos on the show. The show’s success set a benchmark for television programmes in Nepal, prompting other channels to attempt similar formats.

Suraj Singh Thakuri’s journey continued to flourish in the following years. In 2013, he decided to call his time on Call Kantipur handing it to a younger presenter as he took on bigger things. His role in the television channel changed and he embraced the change.

In his new role, he played a pivotal part in the creation of several successful shows, including travel-oriented programmes like Ghum Gham and an interview-based social show that discussed problems in society called Pariwartan.

Through Pariwartan (literal meaning change) he delved into different issues from Nepal like witchcraft, homosexuality, natural disaster, crisis management, tourism, agriculture and sports.

Suraj Singh Thakuri
Suraj Singh Thakuri travelled the country bringing stories from different parts of the country.

His versatility as a producer was evident through these shows, presenting captivating storylines that captured the audience’s attention. Not only did this set him apart, but it also played a crucial role in elevating Kantipur TV to the top position in the country. As a result, Kantipur TV became the most-watched television channel in Nepal elevating its credibility and popularity.

Along with that, he was involved with different brands and carried on his social work through different foundations like the Bhakta Bir Singh Tuladhar Foundation through which he is focusing on girl child education and health.

“Giving back is important.”

Evolving with time

By this time, he was at the top of his game. Having gained expertise and experience, he took on the responsibility of overseeing everything that was happening on the television channel. However, driven by his ambition and desire for new challenges, Thakuri sought to expand his horizons even further. He shifted his focus to sports.

In order to change the footballing culture in the country, he sat with stakeholders of Nepali football and asked them to change the schedule of the league.

“They wanted to hold the game at 3 pm on weekdays. No one is going to watch that and I made sure the games happened during the weekends and under floodlights. Fans still thank me for that,” he says.

Doing that he showed his versatility yet again. As a sports fan himself, he wanted to tap into the excitement and energy of live sports, providing viewers with real-time coverage and analysis. Despite mediocre equipment, Thakuri and the team he assembled were able to successfully broadcast football events like the A Division League and the first-ever Futsal League in the country along with the ICC Cricket League 2.

“I feel proud of what we all were capable of doing,” he says.

A few years ago he introduced late-night TV to Nepal with ‘It’s My Show with Suraj Singh Thakuri’. The show primarily featured guests from the entertainment industry, there were also instances where Thakuri invited guests from the social sphere to discuss and delve into socially important issues. Little did he know doing that would change a few people’s lives.

It was August 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic had hit the country. With everything under lockdown, he felt it was a chance to tap into social issues. In order to do that he invited acid attack survivors Muskan Khatun and Ram Raja Thapa to his show along with activist Ujjwal Thapa.

The episode was emotional. Khatun and Ram Raja talked about how the incident changed their lives and how poor Nepal’s laws were. Khatun even told Thakuri how she wanted to meet the prime minister to whom she had written before and questioned the state on what it has done to stop these incidents.

During the show, Thakuri took a moment to address the camera and speak directly to his audience about the urgent need for help for the individuals featured in the programme. What happened the next morning showed him how powerful this medium actually was.

“I got a call from the Attorney General of Nepal, Agni Kharel. He was touched by the show and asked me to meet Muskan and other survivors like her. We went to see him and we got to even meet Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.”

The meeting was crucial as most of their demands regarding a change in law were met.

Suraj Singh Thakuri at the set of It’s My Show with Suraj Singh Thakuri

Two months later, Thakuri invited a rape survivor who had tried to die by suicide. The episode turned out to be deeply emotional, shedding light on the alarming lack of safety faced by young girls and women in Nepali society. It became evident that the country urgently needed to implement stricter laws to address such issues and protect its vulnerable population.

Attorney General Kharel called again and through the prime minister, they met the law minister as the government vowed to change the law. Both laws were amended making it stricter. Thakuri believes it is one of his biggest achievements.

“All I did was give them space. But it made such a difference. That was one of the biggest impacts of It’s My Show with Suraj Singh Thakuri,” he says.

It’s evident that Thakuri felt a deep and personal connection with the survivors he encountered on his show. Recalling those incidents often stirs strong emotions within him, reflecting the profound impact these stories had on him. 

One such powerful moment was when Khatun was honoured with the International Women of Courage Award by Jill Biden for her remarkable efforts to combat acid attacks. Thakuri was overwhelmed with joy, knowing that he had played a role in shedding light on Khatun’s inspiring work. 

“Moments like these stay with you forever.”

Creating legacy

President Ram Chandra Paudel presented Suraj Singh Thakuri with the Prabal Janasewa Shree award in recognition of his significant contributions to television and media.

Suraj Singh Thakuri has achieved remarkable success as a producer, having successfully created over two dozen popular TV shows and programmes spanning various genres, including music, arts, culture, environment, social issues, sports, life, and health. His significant contributions to the television and media industry, along with his impactful efforts in raising awareness about important social issues, have garnered recognition and appreciation.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions and achievements, Suraj Singh Thakuri was honoured with one of the highest presidential civilian awards, the Prabal Jana Sewa Shree by President Ram Chandra Paudel in April 2023.

This prestigious award not only reflects the recognition and appreciation of Suraj Singh Thakuri’s dedication to using his platform for the betterment of society and promoting positive change but also highlights his outstanding abilities as a media personality in Nepal. Thakuri’s work has not only left a lasting impact on the media landscape but has also inspired countless individuals, making him a deserving recipient of this esteemed award.

“It was an honour. But I always tell myself I still have a lot to do,” he says.

After a successful and fulfilling career spanning over two decades in the Nepali television industry, Suraj Singh Thakuri is now seeking to embark on bigger endeavours. With a diverse portfolio that includes hosting, producing, and even acting in five movies, his aspirations now reach beyond his past accomplishments.

Currently, he is hosting one of the biggest reality shows in the country, Himalaya Roadies but his ambitions reach even further.

“I’ve always been driven by the question of ‘What’s next?’ and right now, I believe the answer lies in going global. My aspiration is to bring my country’s name to the global stage,” he says, “I feel prepared for this new challenge; all I need is an opportunity.”

He is confident in his abilities and he is ready to embrace the chance to make a mark on the global arena. He adds, “I am eager to showcase Nepal’s talent and potential to the world and make a positive impact on an international level.”

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Pant is an independent journalist based in Kathmandu. He covers issues ranging from tech, music, mountains, biodiversity and environment.

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