Having over 250,000 subscribers on YouTube, Saigrace Pokharel has touched many people’s lives through his art of storytelling. Currently based in Barcelona, Spain, Saigrace tells the story of a common man or woman in the most simple yet captivating manner, his voice washing over your soul and giving meaning to his words. He mostly focuses on social issues and human values which have directly or indirectly impacted him; all of which carry a message. His videos have been watched by Nepali-speaking people of all ages across the globe.
He has also been working on projects with the United Nations, Save the Children and Water Aid to spread awareness regarding health, sanitation and mental health as well. Saigrace is also known for his contribution to the music industry. He has made several music and commercial videos for organisations and lent his voice to numerous projects. Here is what he has to say about his journey.
How did you get interested in storytelling and what inspires your stories?
I got fascinated by many forms of storytelling over the course of time. But as I remember, my father was the first one who used to tell me and my brother folk tales and narrate stories. Perhaps that might be the first phase of feeding myself with the nectar of storytelling. Being the listener, I think, is very important. This ultimately led to sharing a few stories among my friends and colleagues as I grew up.
I used to work in the administrative office under the Ministry of Health. I was also learning the art of storytelling inbetween. During a youth conference hosted by the Sri Sathya Sai International Organisation Nepal in Pokhara in 2012, I shared stories in front of thousands of people, and this was the beginning of my journey.
Many things and events influence me to write. But basically anything that can help understand human values are the sources of inspiration for me.
What elements do you use in your storytelling and what effect does it have?
I try to deliver stories in an effectual manner with the use of basic elements like interesting plots, development of theme and necessary characters, and so on. Above all, I try to use a strong sense of observation as a tool. I believe observation is the key to help storytellers put themselves in the character’s shoes. This way listeners can get dragged into the same circumstances that the characters are in. This is what I crave for allowing listeners and audiences relate to the story in the easiest manner. And even if one person can relate and understand the human values, be it small or big, it can add something good to the society.
What is the hardest thing about being a social impact storyteller?
I have been getting many responses and attention for my work. These fuel my consistency and make me work harder, despite the numerous unanticipated challenges that also arise with it. Each day I feel more responsible for what I bring on the table. My biggest concern would be to not let down my well wishers and audiences either professionally or in my personal activities.
What are the changes that you aspire to bring?
I want people to realise the essence of our inherent qualities, our human values. I am not sure everyone can feel that way, but I want an individual to take it as a reminder that says, “Look at your inner self, what is inside you that you have been hiding? Make yourself a little aware about the treasure in there”.
Via lots of messages and calls, I have been getting overwhelming responses from all corners of the world. Many of them are from the people whose perception towards life has changed in some way. I have received messages from people diagnosed with clinical depression and having suicidal thoughts. Seeing their transition from being vulnerable to getting to a safe mindset, is a feeling that I cannot simply put into words. I never knew people would thank me personally saying their lives have become somehow better due to my work.
What is your favourite story to tell and hear?
I have been covering many genres of stories and will continue to do so. I cannot pick one to choose to tell or hear. However, 90s kid, Haku Kale, Anna Ko Srap, Khadi Ko Katha come to my mind.
What are the golden rules for storytelling?
Storytelling is not limited only to an audio-visual format. However, if anyone asks me the standards about my kind of storytelling, I have to say that storytelling is not recitation and it does not need to be calculated in terms of how real or fictional it is. It should be treated as a form of vocal art. When you can blend art and messages, it reaches more people and influences them.