Cover Story

Raymon Das Shrestha: Going With The Flow

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You might have seen him around the Attic entertaining his guests. Or have heard his voice on the radio. Maybe even seen him in films. And if you’re lucky, you may have even spotted him musing to himself with a guitar in his hand. Whether you have or not, what is apparent is that Raymon Das Shrestha is a man of many talents. An RJ, a reality TV judge, an actor, a musician, a restaurateur – Raymon wears many hats effortlessly.

We met Raymon over coffee on a warm sunny afternoon at his acclaimed restaurant ‘The Attic Bar’, located in Tangal. During the day, the Attic draws in a lot of sunlight creating a beautiful visual appeal further accentuated by the post and beam system of the place, which seems to hold you in; almost like a cave.

After a swift exchange of greetings, we began our talk with the man of the moment on his superb career graph, his hobbies and the recently completed reality TV Show ‘Himalaya Roadies’.

It is hard to deny that reality TV is a global phenomenon; be it that people love to spike up their hair up with a gallon of gel like they do in Jersey Shore or have no problems Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The love for these supposedly unscripted and spontaneous shows is real and is quite evident in our closet neighbour, India. As of 2017, there are approximately 226 reality shows in India that have been in full swing with an active audience.

In terms of Nepal, we wish we could say the same. But that does not mean that the scene hasn’t begun to pick up. Later is better than never, and according to us, it was Nepal Idol that set the wheels into motion. And then came Himalaya Roadies that just saw its season finale a while back. Apart from just being entertaining, the show was of quality, and above all, watchable. And what made this show watchable was that it was not forced, the contestants were dynamic in their own regard, and the panel of judges did their part to give the sort of hell that was promised to them. And as you may have guessed, one of the judges that really stood out to us was Raymon, for he was more like a mentor to the youths who had participated, and to the ones who consumed the show as viewers.

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Prachanda came up to me one day and said that he had written a story with three mains, and for one of them he has used me as his muse. There was no way I could refuse him when he asked me to play that role.

It is a good fact to point out that Raymon is the son of Madan Das Shrestha, who is a well known actor in Nepalese cinema with plenty of movies and theatre titles to his name. His mother is associated with Nepal Academy Hall and was an expert cultural dancer during her younger days. Hence, it can be said that the art of performance runs through his veins.

Raymon was very familiar with the film sets as his father would often take him there when he was a child. Then eventually the bug of acting and performing latched on to him and he got into a handful of tele-serials as a child actor and also did some radio dramas. However his parents advised him to not pursue a career in the Nepalese media for they thought it was not heading in the right direction at the time. And he too assumed alike and opted to aspire in the field of business.

From the way Raymon carries himself, it is not surprising to find that a man like him was associated in a music band. However, it’s a shame that it never saw a gleam of fame. Then again, everything happens for a reason.

“I don’t know how it happened, but I got into radio.” He said, leaning in closer and resting his elbows on his knees. “I guess it was my interest in music or just because the radio scene was booming at the time, but before I knew it, I dreamed of becoming an RJ.” His bass heavy voice was amongst the favourites for many and had dominated the air waves for over a decade.

Talking about his entry into the movie industry, Raymon mentions, “I was good friends with Karma, Namrata, and Prachanda, and I guess their passion for acting was rubbing on me and performing as a catalyst for the same passion I had been repressing. Then, I took it as just another thing I was doing with my friends for fun.” He smiled, seemingly reminiscing. “And that’s how Visa Girl happended to be my first movie; and I simply loved the experience.”

He played a partially deaf bassist in the movie Karkash in 2013, and not much after that, or at least nothing as prominent. It is intriguing how the man had been low key for some time. He explains this as to the fact of him always being more of a TV and radio person rather than a film person. “I had been in a few TV shows here and there and I have got to where I am today due to them.”

When we asked him about how he got envolved in Roadies, he shares “And suddenly one day, I got a call from Aman Pratap Adhikari, the director, saying that he needs to talk to me. I said sure, and when we met, he mentioned that he’s working to bring a huge show to Nepal. At this point, he didn’t disclose what he was bringing, so doubts did harbour in me . Eventually, I asked him what it was because the curiosity was eating me up. And then he said that it was the Roadies.”

He takes a dramatic pause. “Roadies? Awesome!”

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“Years back it was an entirely different scenario” he adds. “Back then, when I was starting out and proposing ideas to production companies, they’d give me a budget of just Rs. 20,000. What was I supposed to do with such a little amount?!”

Aman Pratap Adhikari is a name that’s synonymous to quality. He is known for shows like NTV’s Khel Khel, Kantipur’s Scoreboard, and TTV’s Kripa Unplugged. So, Raymon knew that whatever this project was going to be, it was going to be a good one. “I used to follow Roadies and even though I fell out of following them after a while, I loved the show. So I knew I was going to have a good experience working on it. And within a span of two months, the whole team was a close knit family. Everything was according to plan and put in a smooth system. Yet, they made us three judges; Diya, Ashish, and me; feel like we’re the real celebrities. So that was really cool of them.”

The way Roadies has spiked up Himalaya TV’s ratings, goes to demonstrate how quality shows matter in the industry. Raymon says “We’re late to the reality show game. But with more shows like the Nepal Idol and Himalaya Roadies, the future does look promising. In general, our entire media industry is progressing rapidly. I’d say that the Nepali Movies has also taken a huge leap. The films before were all very commercial with repetitive story lines and comical dialogue delivery. Now, we have actors, theatre artists, and directors that have bagged awards in international platforms. We have amazing playwrights and script writers that tell real stories about real people. Years back it was an entirely different scenario” he adds. “Back then, when I was starting out and proposing ideas to production companies, they’d give me a budget of just Rs. 20,000. What was I supposed to do with such a little amount?!” He takes a pause with his face still. It is evident that this fact about the Nepalese media industry distresses him a lot.

Himalaya Roadies had an investment of over Rs. 6 crores and it got exactly what it had invested. “If you want a profitable business, you need to be ready to invest an amount similar to it. Rs. 10  will fetch you just Rs. 10. But it’s not always about the money. Roadies had a good team and a good plan. That is how it became a grand success, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

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“My parents hate it whenever I go out on my bike. But I think they’re used to it by now. Previously, I’d tell them that I’m going away in a car just so that they’d let me go. I hate lying to them, but how good I feel when I’m on the road makes up for it.”

Previously, Nepalese reality shows didn’t do much for the contestants. Singing competitions ended up in half promised record deals, or nothing at all. All in all, the whole notion of reality shows had a shroud of scepticism over it. People didn’t want to take part in it anymore.

When we (TNM) interviewed Saman Shrestha a year ago for our fitness issue, he was a man of few words, very few words indeed. Then, after watching him on Roadies, and eventually witnessing him win the show, what we noticed was how he had changed. He had become more outspoken and confident on how he carried himself. And we feel this is one of the things Roadies has achieved, not just with Saman, but with the Nepalese population as a whole; to be more expressive about themselves and jump into the mouth of the competition.

Raymon says, “Had it not been for the hype in India, Himalaya Roadies would not have received so many participants, and a good rating would have been a mere idle dream. People had their doubts, and I was one of them. And that’s exactly what we had sought out to change. We were out to do something good, to make a quality show. The whole team worked to make this happen, and when it did happen, good ratings were not a surprise to us. Then again, it still feels good when people come up to me and tell me to expect them in the auditions for the next season.”

We asked Raymon about what he has in mind for the future and he promptly replied that he was excited for the next season of Roadies. He added, “In the meantime I will be hitting the roads for sure, and will be taking life as it comes, be it in movies or other shows as well. Also, we are moving the Attic Bar to Gyaneshwor shortly and hope to start operating  at the new place from January 2018 .”

Besides maintaining a successful restaurant business and being consistent with the quality, whilst keeping up with ventures into film and the Roadies as of recent, the man loves to sleep in his spare time. And when he’s not sleeping, he loves to go on bike rides.

“My parents hate it whenever I go out on my bike. But I think they’re used to it by now. Previously, I’d tell them that I’m going away in a car just so that they’d let me go. I hate lying to them, but how good I feel when I’m on the road makes up for it.”

Nonetheless he seems to have found these two polar opposites for hobbies in one merry matrimony. “Sometimes, when things get a bit too hectic, I just get my bike, go all the way to Pokhara, get a hotel room all to myself, and just sleep the whole day.” He says it gives him time for himself, like how people like to read or look outside the window and contemplate on life. “It recharges my batteries and allows me to get my hands dirty again.”

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“life is too short for being concerned about what you can and cannot do; so the best way to go about it is to simply go with the flow and do what you want to do, rather than not do it at all.”

When one meets a man who may seem to others as being so “all over the place”, one must wonder- Isn’t that like being a Jack of all trades and Master of none? Raymon calls it out for being utter nonsense. He claims, “life is too short for being concerned about what you can and cannot do; so the best way to go about it is to simply go with the flow and do what you want to do, rather than not do it at all.”, and we couldn’t agree more.

Words: TNM Team | Photo: Shashank Pradhan

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TNM Team

"The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team." TNM is a premiere men’s magazine providing complete coverage of inspirational stories, fashion and culture from across Nepal. With its unique and powerful design, work from the finest photographer, spectacular writers and a pro- active Marketing team TNM reaches thousands of readers each month. We are team that believes in giving its readers a thought-provoking experience each and every month.