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Profile | Subani Moktan: From Radio Nepal to Nepal Idol judge panel

Kumudini Pant

Kumudini Pant

Profile | Subani Moktan: From Radio Nepal to Nepal Idol judge panel

Moktan grew up in one of Nepal’s most illustrious music families. She is now an accomplished musician, singer, songwriter, and arranger in her own right

When Nepal Idol Season 4 announced a new panel of judges on August 20, Subani Moktan wasn’t that surprised at being picked as one.

“When I got a call that I had been shortlisted for the judge panel, I kind of expected to get it,” Moktan says.

And she did. On August 20, the show’s producers announced she’d be the female judge replacing Indira Joshi in the singing competition, and would sit in the panel alongside Shambhujit Baskota and Sugam Pokharel. While the sudden change came as a surprise to many fans, it was hard to question Moktan’s entry into the core team.

Not only did Moktan grow up in one of Nepal’s illustrious most musical families—she’s the daughter of Sila Bahadur Moktan (a musician and lyricist) and Kunti Moktan (the famed singer)—she’s also an accomplished musician, singer, songwriter, and arranger in her own right. Subani has lent her voice to countless projects, including movies and music videos. Oh, and she is also the voice heard on NCell’s intercept messages.

Moktan, who started learning piano at six and won the All Nepal Singing Competition organized by Bal Mandir aged seven and got to record her first song at Radio Nepal as the prize. She always knew music would play a big part in her life.

“I’ve always been a singer, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to pursue it as a career,” she tells ApEx. This is why she completed her Bachelors’ in Business Studies and her Masters’ in Business Administration. After thinking about it for a while, she then enrolled into another Bachelors’ degree program in music, this time with the Indira Gandhi National Open University’s School of Performing and Visual Arts.

She studied at Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory (KJC) before she started teaching piano there. Unbeknownst to her, her years at KJC would shape her as a musician and a teacher.

After winning the Hits FM Music Award for Best New Artist at 16 and another award for Best Pop Vocal Performance: Female, she worked as an RJ and a VJ, hosting a weekly talk show where she invited Nepali musicians for long chats.

Today, she also works as a writer/assistant editor at Genius Reads, a bookselling company that also makes its own book summaries for buyers.

Moktan always knew that had she chosen not to pursue a career in music she would have been a businesswoman, who would then somehow have found a way to incorporate music into her career. “I probably would have opened a music store, or a franchise.”

But the singer has found another way to share her love for music—by passing on her passion to the next generation of musicians. Right now, Moktan is the proud owner and founder of Keerti Academy, a music school targeted at young children.

“We teach everything from guitar, piano, violin and have lessons on Western and Eastern voice, jazz, choir, and even personality development,” she shares. “Even though it’s mostly for kids, we also have a handful of adults coming in for lessons, who are always welcome.”

Moktan’s schedule is packed right as she works on these various projects while still maintaining a healthy life balance at home with her family and her dog, Muffin.  Shooting for Nepal Idol’s new season hasn’t yet started, but Moktan is gearing up.

She says she is looking forward to public reaction to her inclusion in the judge panel. Even though Moktan has been a part of the Nepali music industry for the past 15 years, she doesn’t know much about how the public sees her.

“Nepal Idol is a huge platform, not just for the contestants but also for the judges,” Moktan tells ApEx. “I have very big shoes to fill. I even sent Indira didi a text as soon as I got the position saying that I’m in no way trying to be her and was rather hoping for her guidance. And she was very supportive in her replies as well.”

But Joshi has warned her that with exposure, the singer might also get a lot of backlash from the audience who may not agree with her judgment. “But I’ll only understand this after the show,” Moktan says. “I hope I will be a good judge, and that I will be able to apply those judgments to my own music.”

Moktan is also working on another song, which will be out in October or November, and a big ‘religious project’ that she doesn’t want to reveal just yet.

“I hope that I can grow musically and that the audience will get to witness my growth over the next five years,” Moktan says. “My mother ruled the Nepali music scene during her time, and I hope to continue her legacy.”