An exiled youth has been nominated as a top 10 Singing Icon of Nepal in a state-owned television reality show, leaving behind thousands of young contestants.
“I have never thought I would be grasping opportunities to participate in mega singing events in Nepal and India,” says 22-year-old Tek Duthraj of Beldangi-I refugee camp.
Duthraj was a child of three when his family was evicted from Sarpang district in 1992.
He started his singer career as a young teenager and regards his father as his source of inspiration.
Duthraj accompanied his father in singing bhajans during frequent events at Manab Dharma Sewa Samiti in camps and outside. Every member in his family is a follower of Manab Dharma.
“I begun my career by singing bhajans,” he says, recalling the happiest moment of his life, when he was declared Bhajan Idol in 2006.
Duthraj defeated hundreds of youth from Nepal, Bhutan and India in the Sunkosh-Tista-Mahakali Bhajan Idol, a stage reality show involving people from these three nations.
Currently, Duthraj has been lodged with one of his friends in his room in Kathmandu, where he is attending music classes.
Several Bhutanese artists from abroad have pledged to support him financially, covering his expenses and tuition fees in Kathmandu. A few of them have contributed money already, according to him.
“I have joined two music classes, one in Kalimati and another at Lazimpat, since my seniors have assured me of bearing the tuition fees,” says Duthraj, who is compelled to borrow a guitar for regular rehearsal in his room.
He plans to buy at least a harmonium this month. “I am exploring all possibilities to get this instrument,” he says.
The NTV Singing Icon reality show airs on a weekly basis, Saturdays at 9:30 pm, and will end in three months.
As an exiled youth from Bhutan, initially Duthraj felt strange to be in the reality show meant for Nepal and Nepali. However, he took it normal. Additionally, he got much inspired and encouraged when one of his seniors told him that ‘artists can become refugees, but art can never be’.
He says he is fully committed to becoming the Singing Icon and has a dream to fulfill if he has to quit in the middle – “I will sing simanale kina parai hunu parcha Nepalile of Arjun Rasaili, also a Bhutanese singer, before I leave the stage.”
Watch an interview with Duthraj by the writer