“I initially wanted to be a Nepali film hero,” recalls Subrat Raj Acharya. So as a teen in the mid-80s, this Kathmandu lad took dance lessons and started doing stage shows. He was exploring ways to get into the film industry when around 1993 an opportunity finally knocked on his door, but not to be an actor. Acharya was rather hired to work as the third assistant director in the Nepali feature film “Andolan,” directed by Tirtha Thapa. The film had a budget of Rs 10 million, a huge sum at the time. Thus Acharya’s career in entertainment began, behind the camera.
Fast forward to 2021, Acharya, 47, is now a popular media-person, actor and director who has two Nepali feature films and around 500 music videos to show as his directorial ventures. “I got a lot of work right after my first film. So much that it hampered my studies,” Acharya says. “So at the advice of my father, I quit work and completed my mass communication degree.” The camera would not let Acharya stay away for long though.
After completing his studies he had only just joined Rajendra Shalabh’s production company Master Recording as a public relations officer when Acharya was asked to direct a music video, an offer he initially denied for lack of experience. But with Shalabh’s encouragement, Acharya in 1997 directed his maiden music video for the late Aruna Lama’s song “Haasi Haasi Jali Rahe” featuring Binod Manadhar and Poojana Pradhan as actors.
The professional journey has been long and successful for Acharya, who is also a journalist at a national-level tabloid, in fact one of the first and the most successful entertainment tabloids in the country. He had been working as a media person and directing music videos and movies at the same time before he quit his journalism job five years ago. But then he got even busier.
“In the past five years, I have had shooting schedules every other day, directing around three-four music videos every week,” Acharya says. His recent works include some of the most watched Nepali music videos. The song “Pirim Nalaune” by singers Aashish Sachin and Melina Rai, which Acharya directed two years ago, now has over 77 million views on YouTube, making it one of most watched Nepali music videos of all time. Subrat also directed singer Deepak Bajracharya’s “Mann Magan” which has crossed 29 million views. His more recent creations have all easily got into the unofficial ‘million club’. He has also made big-budget music videos including singer Sachin Rauniyar’s “A Manchhe” made with a whopping budget of Rs 1.6 million.
“But the most important thing is song quality,” Acharya says. “The success of a music video depends on the quality of singing, lyrics, recording and arrangement more than video quality.” Music videos are only visual interpretations and representation of songs, which, if done creatively, can make the audience watch them on repeat. Music inspires Acharya more than anything else as he looks to make each of his videos entirely different to his previous creations.
Compared to the of-late stagnant film industry, especially post-Covid-19, the music video industry is growing and plenty of money is flowing into it, Acharya says. After the first lockdown, there seems to be an influx of new singers, music video directors and actors. People have this new-found need to become ‘viral’, making them invest in music videos in the hope of gaining overnight popularity.
“While this creates many job opportunities for actors, video-makers and technicians, the unfair competition this creates might be counterproductive in the long run,” says Acharya. The unfair competition, Acharya explains, includes buying fake views in hope of attracting the real audience. Spending more on marketing than on the quality of their work, these people live in a bubble of popularity while the mass is largely unaware of their presence.
“We now have enough resources and skills to make international standard music videos,” Acharya says. “If only everyone focuses on their work and refrain from cheating, the Nepali music video industry has a long way to go.”