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Rishi Dhamala: A Different Journalist

rishi dhamala
Rishi Dhamala

Whether it’s through watching his shows or through seeing clips and snippets of his outrageous moments on tiktok, journalist Rishi Dhamala has become a household name in Nepal.

Rising in fame especially through his shows “Dhamala ko Hamala” and “Janata Janna Chahanchan” where is he known for his controversial questions and political discourse, he gives the people both entertainment and information. But who really is the man behind the name?

In this article, we will take you through his early life to his current successes and try to summarize him into a short read.

Let’s get into it!

Humble Beginnings

Rishi Dhamala was born on 12th November, 1970, in Jyamrung village of Dhading, where his name was Durga Raj Dhamala. He’s the youngest of four children, and got his early education at the local school, Sankhadevi Primary School. He had his hardships dealt to him young, losing his mother at the age of 8.

In his interview with The Kathmandu Post, Dhamala reminisces how he ran away from home at 14 to Kathmandu with ambition in his veins and a dream in his pocket. Here he stayed at his uncle’s and started learning Sanskrit.

To support himself during this time, he got a job selling newspapers door to door and to local shops. This was during the Jana Andolan of the 90’s.

Dhamala then built on this job by getting himself into local weekly news outlets like ‘Dristi‘, ‘Ghatana ra Bichar‘ and ‘Naya Pushta‘ to name a few. He also completed his Intermediate in Arts from People’s Campus in Paknajol. Here he took politics as his core subject.

This way, collecting skills and establishing a name for himself, he eventually got into radio and television.

Television & Journalism

Coming far from his humble beginnings, Dhamala is now the founder and chairperson of Prime Times Television. He hosts his two shows “Dhamala ko hamala” and “Janata Janna Chahanchan” where he invites a diverse group of guests from politicians to singers and holds political discourse as well as getting-to-know conversations. He also hosts other shows both on television and in radio.

Dhamala ko Hamala: Dhamala (left) with the then mayoral candidate, Balen Shah
Dhamala ko Hamala: Dhamala (left) with the then mayoral candidate, Balen Shah (right)

He is also the founder and chairperson of Reporter’s Club Nepal. It is a non-profit organization that creates space for discussions on current events, and reports to the public. He is the Editor-in-Chief there, and also writes pieces for other prominent news sources.

However, his successes don’t come without cost. He often talks about his busy schedule, even mentioning that he sleeps for 3 hours a night. This hustle has earned him a net worth of $1.5 million.

Married Life

Rishi Dhamala (right) with wife Aliza Gautam Dhamala (left)

Dhamala married actress Aliza Gautam in 2013.  He met her at a Rastriya Prajatantra Party event where she was attending with her mother. The couple is often asked about their age difference of 20+ years, but both seem to be okay with it.

Funnily, even on the day of his wedding, Dhamala dropped by his early morning live talk show ‘Nepali Bahas’ before heading to the ceremony.

With such a busy schedule, Dhamala admits he doesn’t have time for his family, but states that he has managed everything for his wife. Gautam and their two children are now in Canada.

Controversy

On 3rd February, 2009, Rishi Dhamala was arrested by Nepal Police for possible ties with Ranvir Sena, an anti-Maoist, armed outfit involved in a series of blasts across Nepal during that time.

The allegations were formed on the basis of a phone call recording that seemed to portray Dhamala striking a deal with a member of the outfit to extort Rs 3-4 million from a businessman.  Dhamala denied the accusations and maintained that he was being harassed.

He was released on 12th April of the same year by the Appellate Court Patan.

Memes

With a distinct personality like his, Dhamala has also become a major source of memes for the younger generation. Below are a few examples:

Here’s one with a play on words “…Dhamala mathi…Hamala” referring to his show “Dhamala ko Hamala“.

This video of him dancing with Prachanda in 2014 resurfaces on the internet once in a while in various meme formats, with the title to this one being “Dance Battle”.

And of course, the most common edit, “Thug Life” videos consist of instances where he might have one-upped people during conversation, or vice versa:

 

These types of videos circulate everywhere on social media, from Facebook to TikTok, and help introduce him to younger generations.

Opinions

Dhamala is well known for the shock value of his invasive questions and comments, and relentless questioning style. He speaks of his unwavering belief in the freedom of speech & accepts criticism, also bringing up the ethics of journalism.

However, under the guise of “janata janna chahanchan”, the public wants to know, he does not hesitate to ask invasive questions on subjects like the virginity of his guests, particularly of women. He also famously questions the length of their skirts, despite admitting that he is criticized for it, and being aware that he only comments on the clothing and mannerisms of women.

He also does not shy away from asking whether women should be actors even after marriage- the type of questioning even his wife is not exempt from.

There are a lot more instances like these circulating the internet.

With the reach and influence that he has, we wonder why Dhamala chooses to reinforce values harmful to the progress of women. 

Conclusion

All in all, Rishi Dhamala is a man of many attributes who can still do better on obvious fronts. A journalist, a founder, a talk show host, a husband, and a father, he is seemingly the face of hustle culture in contemporary Nepal. There is definitely much to learn from him, while also taking him with a grain of salt.

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Alia S

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