Watching a Nepali Movie: An Experience

And the experience was horrible.

arunima lamsal with mom n dad

Actress Arunima Lamsal in a premiere show of her sixth movie Abhimanyu in a Kathmandu theater on Friday, 5 Jan. Pics by Bikas Rauniar

Two days ago, I watched a Nepali movie called Abhimanyu (name of a character in ancient epic Mahabharat who falls into a spiral and is killed by enemies). It was kind of compulsion to go to the theater and see the ‘action and comedy drama’. As a reporter you have to face such situations. People in film fraternity always lament: Why Kantipur is not covering Nepali films? As the coordinator of the arts and style section of the paper, I have to handle such complains. After I got invitation to attend the premiere show of the movie in Kathmandu, I decided to watch the film and, if possible, write something about it.

If you compare Nepali films with Hollywood and Bollywood movies, you will find the former completely avoidable. Produced with comparatively low budget, Nepali films are poor in quality and other benchmarks. An average Nepali film’s standard budget is around Rs. 4.5 million (slightly more than US $ 55 thousands). Don’t compare our films with Hollywood and Bollywood flicks, Nepali film makers constantly warn reporters and other critics. Keep in mind, they say, Nepali film industry and its market is limited. “We are a very small industry and only lower class people watch our films,” said a Nepali film director recently.

Whatever they say, you can’t stop yourself from comparing. First, the theater (Shiv Darshan in New Baneshwor) was a mess. It was a disaster. How can you enjoy a cinema in such a dirty theater? Chairs were filthy and broken. Somehow I managed to get seated in one of those. They were kept in such a congested manner that I had to remain either straight or leaning forward all the time. If I leaned back, my knees wouldn’t get enough space and push the seat in front of me. Walls are dirty and torn out.

There are only three or four good cinema halls in Kathmandu where you find relatively good environment to watch cinemas. For example, Kumari and Jai Nepal are the most sophisticated and clean theaters in Kathmandu. Rests are like this one.

As soon as the movie Abhimanyu ran on the screen people started hooting sarcastically. Credit lines were displayed in reverse. “Oh saala negative po dekhayo,” someone screamed from behind. Then the screen went blank for a few minutes.

naresh poudyal director of abhimanyu Naresh Paudyal is the director of Abhimanyu Just in front of me was a lady with, I guessed, her daughter on her left and her husband on the right. It took me no time to realize that the ‘daughter’ was the actress of the movie: Arunima Lamsal. As the film got rolled, the family started talking. I was more interested in overhearing their chats and whispers than seeing the movie. Father and mother kept asking “where is this?” almost every time the location changed on the screen. Sometime they laughed on the comedy scenes. My impression is that father wanted to encourage his daughter who was playing in her sixth movie. Father, Bikarm Sharma is an auditor, I would learn later and mother Radha Lamsal was a TV actress.

The crowd in the theater was a disaster too. Folks were talking loud and every time the hero came to rescue his girl or kicked the villain, they would scream ‘ho, ho, ho’ and ‘ha, ha, ha’ and clap. Mobile phones were constantly ringing and chaps were talking in loud voice: hall ma chhu ma, film heri ra ko chhu. [I am in the theater watching a movie.] Oh… the conversation wouldn’t end on that note. It would be extended; the caller would laugh loudly responding to the person on the other side. You can’t hear the dialogue of the film properly.

The film sounds so unnatural, at least to me. It’s a paradox that people love to relate a work of fiction with reality they live in. I could easily see the research part of the movie was super flop. Do people use full and formal sentences all the time in their daily and casual conversation? I don’t and no one in my house or office does so.

Documentaries and non fiction films are gaining popularity in urban Nepal market recently compared to feature films. But the director of Abhimanyu, Naresh Paudyal, had a different argument. “We make films for mainstream audience,” he said, “not for the pseudo-intellectuals of Kathmandu city.” So that was his answer for the rising popularity of non fiction films in Kathmandu. He said the audience of such creations was very limited.

The show was over and oh boy it was a big relief. Why did I stay in the theater for the whole show? Because I saw story for my newspaper in the family conversation! I wanted to take their photo and talk to the parent of the actress Arunima Lamsal. That’s what I did and made a story.

[Here is the story that was published in yesterday’s Kantipur daily]

14 thoughts on “Watching a Nepali Movie: An Experience

  1. I also faced the similar situation while I was in my home town in Dashain. I stepped to a local theatre near by my home. I dont remember the name of that Nepali movie. It was really really boring as well the hall was disgusting. I felt like being punished for a terrible crime. I left the movie at interval.

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  2. as a film buff, i enjoyed reading your artciles in both in newspaper as well as here in your blog site.

    i do not think the low budget is a problem in making a good cinema. what we need is a director who can tell the story in a simple yet effective way. our directors , writers, script writers do not do research and homework properly. one can make a good film , by using any camera format whether its 35 mm or 16 mm or digital, what we need is a good director. there are many god examples of excellent films made in low budget not only in india but in countries like italy, argentina, iran, china etcs

    there are some good nepali films like duniya, eh mero hazur, darpan chaya, numafung, mukundo etcs and also we have some good film makers and good actors and actresses. lets hope for a good films in future !! !

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  3. I think it’s the lack of a good story that makes Nepali films so geeky.The stories are mainly of the old Indian style …involving a super powerful hero, some villians , a showpiece herione who is just the hero’s companion and has no roles of her own except to put the hero in troubles and so on.And the main problem with Nepali movies is that they lack Nepaliness- the dialogues are like Nepali translation of some Hindi dialogue and too formal as you have rightly said.To talk about the acting- the actors’ smile don’t reach their eyes!!!ANd they say ki film herna kohi aaundaina… herna layakko hunuparyo ni!!!-nepali bhanera hepne maan ta hoina ni-jhaan aafno bhasama ramro film banyo bhane ta makkha parera herna gainchha ni.Alikati mehenat garera ali creative bhayo bhane ta kaam laganima nai ramro film bhanchha ni ani lagani pani dubdaina tara uhi kathalai ghumai phirai naramro tarika le presentation garepachhi ta dubihalchha ni.Naaya prayog garna daraunu bhayena ani main kura ta ali maan lagayera mehenat garera film banaunuparyo,haina ta Dinesh dai.

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  4. Yes, the main problem with our film makers is that they don’t have creative ideas that could bring quality Nepali crowd to theaters. But one film maker (producer) told me this: “we have creative ideas. I have creative ideas. But I can’t risk implementing those ideas because if I fail I will be bankrupt and have to sell my house and land to repay the debt.” One film maker said that his job wasn’t like making a music video with Rs. one hundred thousand.

    Yes, quite a few movies have become successful in Nepali market because they dealt with homegrown story. Take Balidaan for instance. The story is not copied from any Hindi film. It’s about Nepali society and its politics. I almost cried watching that movie and liked it.

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  5. I recently Visited Nepal over the summer June 18th I seen few Nepali TV Shows and it was great and funny.. Please Please keep up the great work..
    Naresh Paudyal and all the best for you and ur familys.

    Anita Gadtaula
    From USA NEW YORK CITY

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  6. Ooouch….now that hurts…us the urban crowd are the pseudo-intellectuals!!!…hahaha….and Nepali movies are not for us eh!…..how sad….good going Naresh brother…..creating movies for the so called mainstream audience …..I ‘m sure you are very satiesfied exploring your intellectual side and making money doign your honorable Job….and I must say that was quite a statement comming from someone as pseudofamous as you!

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  7. I recently watched two nepali movies, now I have become addicted to them.

    Nepali films suck big time but it’s such a time pass laughing my ass out.. and then later, commenting on the actors and the songs and everything.

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  8. Its hard to say what’s a weakness of nepali movies

    1) Low budget
    2) Director not skilled
    3) the stories are always on traditional manner(young generation peoples do not like to watch a movie)

    4)shooting place in Nepal are not modern
    5) Movies Between Rich and Poor

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  9. there is too much complaining here. but who’s listening?
    i liked darpan chhaya among the few nepali movies i have seen
    however in my whole life, i have never watched a single movie in theatre

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  10. Can we turn our focus on the positive sides too? Why is it that all we care for is to complain? I have never been able to comprehend this general tendency of many Nepalese. Could we make things happen rather than critique all the time? I do understand that criticism serves a purpose, but If I have to be honest, it does hurt me a lot to acknowledge the fact that we have grown up complaining and not accepting the task.

    Hopefully action will get some chance among us.

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