“I find the word ‘old’ a cliché. There’s a stereotypical thinking of how someone my age should be. But that’s not who I am,” says Aman Pratap Adhikary, 46, a man of many talents, one of them his ability to start a good conversation at any given place and time. “I say this because when I posted my age on my birthday recently, some people said I was getting old. I’m friends with my young daughter and son, and I think I’m their age.” Adhikary, currently popular as the “Don Director” of the youth-favorite reality show “Roadies,” is a busy man in Nepali television. Starting his TV career as a sports program presenter/producer in the late 90s, Adhikary has experienced Nepali television like no other person: making sports programs, commentating, to directing music videos to making documentaries, he has done it all. And he has now found his calling in reality TV, a new challenge.
But how did he get into making something whose audience is mostly teens and young people in their mid- 20s? “Well, it’s because I think young and act young,” he says. “I even try out all the tasks for Roadies, as long as my crew permits me.” Adhikary says he maintains certain discipline in his life to keep him both physically and mentally strong. That he was an A-division footballer before joining television helps.
After having spent years in Nepali TV channels, Adhikary’s actual growth, as he puts it, started when he left for Scotland in mid-2000s. There, he got a degree in Television and Film Production from the Edinburgh University and also interned in international production houses. He believes his six years in Scotland shaped his career for the better.
But why did he come back to Nepal despite being eligible to apply for PR in the UK and having already gotten a decent job? “A mentor once asked me if I wanted to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond,” he says. “That struck me. I chose the former and here I am, using all my education and experience in Nepal.”
When Adhikary came back in 2010, he started “Venturing Nepal”, an adventure show that used multi-camera productions, then directed “Kripa Unplugged,” a music program that combined multi-camera production with studio-grade recording. “People were kind of surprised initially when I directed Kripa as they had seen me do just sports and adventures. Only a few knew I was the son of poet/lyricist Kshetra Pratap Adhikary and I grew up having musical legends like Narayan Gopal and Gopal Yonzon hanging out in my house.”
Adhikary was looking for the next big challenge when he was approached for Roadies. It was a big challenge for Adhikary as Roadies was a franchise that had been running in India since 2003, and the standards set by the production company were high. But with his experience, and support from the crew, the first season of Roadies was aired in 2017 and there has since been no looking back. “It was difficult initially when we had to start from scratch and gather a crew which could shoot Roadies,” he says. “We also had to get verifications and approvals for literally everything from India. But at one point, they let us work independently and even praised our work. That was a big achievement for us.”
With the popularity of Roadies at its peak, Adhikary also directed the very first season of “Ko Bancha Crorepati”, another franchise reality TV show. “That was textbook for me though,” he says. “While I was very passionate about Roadies, Crorepati was me using what I’d learnt in college.” He again credits his Roadies team for helping him out with Crorepati and says they are ready to take on any new challenge. That confidence has also promoted him to explore the launch of the Indian franchise “Splitsvilla” in Nepal. The project, an ambitious one, is still in its pre-production phase.
But Adhikary is more excited about his own reality production called “Shailee”, a poetry show where participants will have to woo the audience and the judges not only with their writing skills, but also their presentation. “This is our own offering, dedicated to my father,” he says. “We’re looking for the X-factor in Nepali poets and giving them an outlet for an outburst.” Shailee, Adhikary informs, is all set for production and will soon be launched