26 April-2 May 2013 #653

By the fireside

A Monday afternoon in the office for Bhusan Dahal involves intercom feeds, power cuts, and Gagan Thapa
Kundan Shrestha

In the middle of an intense discussion about the upcoming CA elections with NC youth leader Gagan Thapa, Bhusan Dahal suddenly nods his head briskly. This is not merely conversational etiquette, the 47-year-old host of Kantipur TV’s Fireside program is actually acknowledging the mediator in the control room who instructs him through an earpiece to move onto a new topic.

In the glare of studio lights and cameras, Dahal simultaneously processes directions from the control room while the eloquent leader shares his views on Nepali youth’s anguish. Thapa’s monologue extends to the reluctance of political parties to allow young leaders to take over the reins, at which point the mediator urges Dahal to question him about his underachieving career.

Halfway through, the generator in the building gives in and brings the show to a grinding halt. Dahal apologises and the two men simply wait in the pitch dark studio. When the computers are rebooted and the lights illuminate the set, the mediator reminds Dahal that Thapa had been speaking about the burden political parties must bear to abide by their electoral manifestos. Dahal craftily frames his question so that they get to carry on where they left off before the momentary blackout. The audience at home, however, never gets to witness these intriguing behind the scene moments. In the final cut of the program that we see on our tv sets, conversation flows seamlessly.

Having completed almost 500 episodes, the entire crew seems extremely comfortable with each other and the mood on the sets is usually very relaxed although a bit noisy. At times intra-studio communication falters with changing mediators, at other times shooting is interrupted due to load-shedding, but Dahal rallies his team to push on.

While Dahal’s easily recognisable voice is projected into our living rooms every Monday night at 9, it’s the people we don’t see who are the real backbone of the show. The dedicated team spends hours every week monitoring the political situation and feeling the pulse of the public and is integral to the program’s immense popularity and success. While the Nepali television industry staggers along, the Fireside crew has been able to maintain its high standards throughout these past 10 years.

The charismatic host likes to ‘warm-up’ with his guests over a cup of coffee while he lets the crew finish last minute lighting and audio arrangements. Today Dahal asks Thapa about his views on the UCPN(M) chairman’s recent visit to China and voices his own frustrations about Nepali politics. As Thapa is immersed in Xi Jinping, the anchor’s eyes dart towards his subordinates questioningly. Once he receives the cue, Dahal’s transforms from an active participant to a crafty stimulator.

The commotion on the set and improvisations are all part of the ebb and flow of the television business and just another day in the office for the Fireside crew.

To watch the whole interview click here

Read also:

Election is the only way ahead

Bhusan’s fireside