Pratap Das is the one who left millions into hypnosis with his mellifluent singing and wreathed them in bliss with his novel smiles. Repeatedly introduced as Jasko muskaan chha kehi khaas, Nepali Idol ko aas (Something special is in his smile; Das is the hope of Nepal Idol), Das delivered super-progressive performances throughout the inaugural season; finally, getting tagged as Nepal Idol ko bishwas (Faith of Nepal Idol).
Born in Jharuwarasi, Lalitpur, the 23-year-old Das belongs to a family where everyone is a music enthusiast. He did his schooling from Jyotidaya Cooperative Secondary School where he had remained active in showcasing his musical talents in school’s functions. After school, he joined Kalanidi Indira Sangeet Mahavidhyalaya, and is learning music from Dhana Bahadur Gopali until today. A constant persuader of music, Das—before contesting in Nepal Idol—had participated in Kaladini Idol in 2017 and Nepali Tara where he had secured fourth position.
Was it always your dream to become a singer?
It has always been my dream since my childhood. I always wanted to do something in the music field, and to make my parents proud.
You had participated in many shows, weren’t they helpful to push you towards your goal?
I did go on stage on many occasions, but more than being fruitful and setting a direction for my career, it was more about satisfying myself and fulfilling my passion for singing. It did not help me much in my musical career.
What else were you doing before you got into Nepal Idol?
Before participating in Nepal Idol, I was a struggling musician seeking for an opportunity to present my talent. I was doing backing vocals for movie songs with a hope to hear my songs getting played on television and radio channels. On a side note, I have also acted in the movie ‘Khai O Mheetheba’. Additionally, I used to sing in hotels in the evenings but I would often not be paid. While I participated in singing competitions, I had the support from people but after the show, I had found many people turning their backs on me. While living a life in small packages, a big package came along with Nepal Idol.
You had recorded some songs as well, can we hear it?
I have recorded some songs but they haven’t been aired. I’ve always had a tough time as a musician because money matters a lot. To record a song, money is a must, and to promote a song, money is required. Everyone appreciates music, but no one really sponsors for it. Many times, I’ve been hurt by the fact that when I’m tuning in for the airing or release of a song I had recorded, someone else has done the vocals.
If you hadn’t received the golden ticket, what would you have probably been doing?
I was recording a backing track that day; so, I would have gone back to the same struggling life, looking for a way into music. Besides music, there is nothing I’m particularly good at; so, there is no other way out for me besides meeting people, looking for producers and directors who could provide me with some work.
What were the challenges you had faced after the selection period?
The change of environment made me sick, and I got an allergy in my throat which was a bit problematic. Besides that, we had restrictions, such as staying away from our parents and not being allowed to use our phone. However, we understood that these limitations were placed so that we could concentrate more on improving ourselves and not be distracted. Later, we got used to it.
Did you feel that you were not good enough at some point?
I’m still a student and I know that there is so much more for me to learn. However, learning is a never ending process, so what I could rather focus on was giving the best I have got. Despite this, I did get into the danger zone for five times, which was pretty scary, but it became a habit after a while. The judges always gave me good comments, but somehow, I always ended up in the bottom. Being eliminated from such a big stage after reaching so far would have shattered me; so, every time I got into the danger zone, I pushed myself to the limit to do much better in the next round.
How has Nepal Idol changed you?
We were all lazy, and we only focused on singing. Nepal Idol has taught us to become a professional. We’ve changed as a human being, and we’ve learned to devise plans to stay fit and prepared for what comes next. They’ve taught us that only singing is enough to become a showman and make it all the way as a singer.
What were the scenes like behind the camera?
The camp was really fun. If one was happy, others used to remain happy, but if one was sad, others also used to go into sadness. If there was something to learn, all of us would learn it together. Sometimes, we used to engage ourselves in mischievous acts, and we used to wish our caretaker Surya Gurung wouldn’t catch us. Occasionally, we used to have minor conflicts but during eliminations, we used to forget about it and share the pain while hugging.
Why do you think have you reached so far?
It has to do with the singing. Nothing else really matters, except how you present yourself on the stage. First, I had to give a winners’ performance so I could qualify for the next rounds. Then there is the audience who are like my mom and dad because they have supported me and believed in me. Without their acceptance and appreciation, I wouldn’t have reached here.
Tell us about some of your most memorable moments in Nepal Idol.
When you do not have electronic items to distract you, you seek for alternative ways to have fun. Everyone in Nepal Idol were close, and there have been times when we all got together to watch a movie in secrecy and someone would knock the door from the outside, scaring us all. Suraj Thapa certainly looked innocent from the outside, but he was really mischievous, always frightening us and playing pranks. He actually made us believe that the hotel we were in was haunted.
What sacrifices have you made for this competition?
Compromises maybe, but not sacrifices. If I was not one of the contestants in Nepal Idol, I would still be struggling, and If you’d asked me where I was going with my life, I wouldn’t know. Nepal Idol has given me more than I could ask for; the fame and attention of a lifetime in the past five months.
What has Nepal Idol taught you?
It has compelled me to believe that karma is real and handwork will pay off. I’ve struggled so much, and finally, I got my big shot. Perhaps now, I will not have to go back to suffer. My real problem will be to sustain myself in the market.
What are your future plans now?
I’m looking forward to rock the nation. I need to do something for the people and take Nepali music to the next level. I did get some stardom previously while in other singing competitions but it was short-lived. Now, I have millions of well-wishers, and I believe it will last long. Since I’ve struggled so much in the musical field, I want to find a way to help struggling talents, answers to which I do not have now. The people have provided me with so much support, and I have a responsibility to give something back.