Nishan Bhattarai is a gem of the inaugural season of the singing reality show who earned the moniker desh ko shaan (meaning Pride of the Nation) for his outstanding crooning capacity and great panache on stage. Though specialising in gazal and adhunik music, the 21-year-old singer demonstrated absolute flamboyance by presenting flawless covers of songs of various genres.
Born in Urlabari, Morang, Bhattarai did his schooling from Bhrikuti Model Academy, the school that had hired a teacher, especially for him, when he was in upper kindergarten. With such support, Bhattarai kissed his first success when he secured fourth position in a children singing competition. For many years that followed, he remained victorious in many like-natured programs.
Bhattarai has remained active in recording songs as well. Besides recoding scores of children’s songs in his kidhood, he has recorded the song Katai Milan that went into the nominations at Image Award. Encouraged by his successes since his childhood, Bhattarai continued his hunt for success in the music field. Finally, he has become the Desh Ko Shaan.
Before participating in Nepal Idol, you had participated in other singing competitons, but you could not make it to the final rounds. What is the difference in you then and now?
I believe I was too young at that time, and my voice hadn’t matured either.
Had you thought to quit singing?
Honestly, I had almost given up on singing competition because of an incident in the past. When I was 12, my father closed down his small shop in Morang so I could participate in a singing competition in Kathmandu. He paid all the expenses for 6 months but the show got cancelled at the final stage, and we lost so much valuable time. All our effort and difficulty had no result. I actually thought that this was going to be my last shot, and if it wasn’t for me qualifying, I could have turned my head away from reality TV shows.
You had sung many songs. Are they available for purchase?
No. None of them really made it out. Composers thought it weren’t good for the market.
Did that discourage you?
It did hurt me, but it certainly didn’t discourage me. It helped me realise that I had a talent, and taught me to continue trying. It made me believe that someday people will come to listen to my songs. So, I didn’t stop singing.
What did you feel during the audition?
The magnitude of the program had left me frightened. I saw a scene where the most talented people were coming to the audition and I was competing with the best among the best. But after the audition, I was amazed after receiving good comments from the judges. Nhyoo sir even cracked a joke asking me to take all the golden tickets. It was the most beautiful moment of my life.
What would you be doing now if you hadn’t got the golden ticket?
Routine of my life would have remained the same. I would have been living in a rented room in Kathmandu, balancing my studies and music at the same time, running around for a healthy struggle, learning about music, and trying to expose myself. Even if I hadn’t got the ticket, I wouldn’t have been discouraged or depressed.
What was it like after you got in as one among a pool of exceptional talented singers?
All I could think of then was that I was lucky to even get into this big franchise, and it was an achievement in itself. There was nothing I could do for being surrounded by exceptionally capable and talented people. All I could do was to work hard and prepare myself for the challenges ahead.
What changes did you notice as you advanced into every other round?
As the elimination rounds started to arrive, I saw groups getting smaller. Becoming friendly with everyone was not becoming possible because there were many golden ticket holders. However, we also got closer, and things became a little more emotional.
What were some good moments that you spent in Nepal Idol?
Celebrating my birthday in a grand style with all the idols made me really happy. Besides, visiting historically important places with the happy-go-lucky participants (now my close friends) was full of fun.
You had landed in danger zone thrice. Did you think your journey in Nepal Idol was ending soon?
It was scary. It was a nerve wrecking moment because audience’s vote was rolling the dice. In all those danger zone situations, I had prayed to God a lot of times. Besides, I had kept looking at others’ expressions. At that moment, everyone would keep biting their nails. Thank god, I survived in all those elimination phases. Anyway, it wasn’t a moment of too much happiness for me. Seeing good friends getting eliminated did not give a good vibe.
What was the worst nightmare for you?
When I got into top 12, I had fallen sick, and I did not perform well. As a singer, it’s terrible to fall sick. We can perhaps cope up with tiredness, but common cold is a singer’s worst nightmare. Fortunately, I had made it past the phase.
You returned to your hometown to give a performance. How did it feel?
I will never forget the moment. I was surrounded with immense crowd, and people were adjudging that not even a political event had gathered such a big crowd.
Any interesting fan incidents?
While I was performing in Itahari, one of my fans ascended the stage to take a selfie. Thinking it was allowed, a whole lot of girls ascended the stage. The situation had gone out of control.
What has Nepal Idol taught you?
Before, all I knew was to sing, but Nepal Idol has taught me the traits of a performer and sense of style. It has taught me to ensure personal management to groom myself. It has taught me to stay disciplined.
What helped you to come this far?
Nepal Idol evaluated individual performances; so, I believe my singing prowess have helped me to take me up to this level. There is no other way or reason behind it. Everyone has given their best performances, but perhaps, the audience saw something unique in me. I realised I’ve got the capacity to win the hearts of complete strangers.
What has Nepal Idol given you?
A huge platform and love of the people. It would have taken me decades to get what I’ve got in the past five months. If Nepal Idol was not there, I would have been struggling still; God knows for how long.
Who are the people behind your success?
Many people have helped me to come to this stage, and names of few I cannot miss out: Bhrikuti Model Academy and gurus Bishal Rai, Kamala Khanal, Yasoda Shakya and Manoj Raj Siwakoti.