The Poet Idol, poetic reality TV show, awaits the reality check
On September 10, a TV production team announced the launch of The Poet Idol, supposedly the first Nepalese poetry reality show. The show which will decide the winners also by voting also revealed its judges during the event.
The Poet Idol is not a franchise show like most reality shows in Nepal are. Aman Pratap Adhikary, the show’s director, said, “In a bid to go global, we introduced the reality show which would be all about Nepalese poetry.”
While most reality shows are well received in Nepal, the poem reality show is totally a new concept here. Shows like Pratibha Ko Dabali, Nepal Idol, Boogie Woogie, Ko Banchha Crorepati, Comedy Champion, Voice of Nepal and Roadies are popular reality shows in Nepal. Most reality shows are based on dancing and singing.
The very different nature of the show has placed The Poet Idol facing an uncertain future as stakeholders are also divided over its possible contribution to Nepalese poetry in the future.
Nepalese poetry contest
If you look at the history of Nepalese literature, Nepalese poetry in particular, there is a long history of poetry contests. Bal Krishna Sama, in his book Mero Kabita Ko Aaradhana, mentioned poetry competitions that had been held since the days of Chandra Shumsher Rana in Durbar High School. Even if you look at modern times, there is also a notable history of poetry contests.
The National Poetry Festival organized by the Nepal Academy is considered to be the biggest poetry competition in Nepal. Since 1965, the competition has been held annually on June 23 (Ashad 9). At the first National Poetry Festival, comedian Bhairav Aryal won the title.
There is an interesting history of the academy poetry festival in Nepal. King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah, a poet himself, used to set the title of the contest for the nation’s youth. But, after 1990, the format of the competition changed; participants were allowed to write poems in the title of their choice.
Apart from the National Poetry Festival, there are also other nationwide poetry competitions which have contributed to the growth of Nepalese poetry.
Most competitions are announced by public notices; the poems are collected either by mail or by mail. Finally, the poems are evaluated by the judges and the one with the highest score wins the competition. This means that the judges decide the winner without meeting the poets.
Meanwhile, the format of Nepalese poetry contests is evolving into the digital age, and The Poet Idol is taking things a step further. After the Covid epidemic in 2020, many competitions took place virtually. Poets send their poems in audio/audiovisual formats and the organizers choose the best among the submissions.
Judges determine the winner by reading the poem and listening to the poet’s recitation of the poem.
But The Poet Idol is even more different from that.
Director Aman Pratap Adhikary says he is doing this show in memory of his father, Kshetra Pratap Adhikary, a popular poet and songwriter who is also called Gambesika Kabi (the village poet), the title he derived from his anthology, Gambesika Geet (Village Songs).
Previously, Adhikary worked for popular reality shows like Roadies and Ko Bancha Crorepati. In the first edition of The Poet Idol, he named Biplov Pratik, Upendra Subba, Surakshya Panta and Anup Baral as judges. Divya Dev will be the host of the show.
According to Adhikary, the initial audition will take place digitally, where people from anywhere will have to submit a two-minute poem in a video. Then the performances will be brought to the studio and 14 poets will be selected from there.
At the same time, the public can also vote for their favorite poet. A poet will be eliminated in each episode. Finally, whoever gets the most votes from the public and the judges’ scores will be announced as The Poet Idol.
The Poetic Reality Test
The announcement of The Poet Idol received mixed reviews regarding its contribution to Nepalese poetry. Some people consider this a stunt and some of them consider it a best practice for marketing poems.
“Making poetry popular digitally is good news. The reality show should now aim to make the tradition of poetry recitation more specialized, thus making it easy for audiences to receive Nepalese poetry,” said lead poet Tulasi Diwasa.
Over time, the model of writing poems has changed significantly, and many people believe that this reality show will be relevant. People who love slam poetry openly enjoy the show.
But, there are dissenters within the poetry fraternity. “Reality shows are crazy supermarkets; it’s an industry to deceive the world,” says poet Binod Bikram KC, “It’s ridiculous that reality TV shows breed amazing talent. A program cannot breed talent; you need a whole ecosystem.
Poet Swapnil Smriti also says that reality shows are meant to make money, thus suggesting that believing the Idol poet is contributing to Nepalese poetry is irrelevant.
This means that the implications of the show in Nepali literature are still unclear. You have to wait and watch.
This story has been translated from the original Nepali version and edited for clarity and length.