After the South Asian Film Festival, there was the festival of South Asian Music Videos (from Nepal, India and Pakistan) in Kathmandu today. I didn’t attend the event but I am very much aware of the politics of favoritism in playing Music Video in Nepali TV stations.
When I woke up in the morning, well that was actually afternoon, I realized that I was tired courtesy of the marathon watching of non fiction films from around South Asia in the past four days. Waking up at around 8 AM, one day it was at 7 AM (can you believe?), and driving up to Kumari Cinema in crowded public vehicles, talking to so many people just for the shake of nothing but formality, watching films (as well as noting down a few dialogues and verbatim etc.), going back to office and writing the news stories under the pressure to meet the deadline. After that, you are home (sometime at around 10 PM), eat the food that has been kindly made ready and put into a hot case, try to briefly catch up to the late night headlines on news channels, log on to blogs and emails because, one, you are addicted to them and, two, you can’t just go to sleep however you try to without doing that.
So today, after a kind of weird dream, I woke up at around 11:15 and decided that I will not go to attend the South Asian Festival of Music Videos, an extended show of the South Asian Festival of Documentaries. It was a slow and lazy day. So was I. Hell with reporting the Music Video Festival, I thought. It’s now 10:45 PM and I think the only thing I missed by not attending the MVF is, perhaps, the short documentary film about legendry Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (“Nusrat has left the Building… but when?” by Farjad Nabi in 1997) and, perhaps, some Pakistani music videos as well. You can see Nepali and Indian music videos on Nepali and Indian televisions.
I have mentioned it somewhere in WSJ before that compared to Nepali films Nepali music is doing better and the emergence of music video is to be credited for the surge in popularity of music. What made the music videos popular? The arrival of private TV channels like Image, Kantipur and Nepal 1. There’s even a saying that if you have Rs. 500,000, you can be a hit singer in Nepal. How? A friend of mine who works is a sassy weekly tabloid in Kathmandu said: “With that money, produce an audio album and a music video, throw parties to reporters and, especially, the Radio/Video Jockeys, make posters of yourself and paste ‘em across the city. You are a star.” The same reporter, who has inside knowledge about the entertainment industry, told me that there is “deep and dirty politics” in the small world of Video Jockeys. And what’s that? “If there is a program presenter or VJ of one TV station featuring in a music video, then that will hardly get any airspace in another TV station.” Worst, the reporter noted, the VJs demand that they be included in the production of music video (which will give them extra earning) promising the singer more airtime in their network. Because of this petty politics of ego among VJs, the reporter explained, singers are suffering as they face rejection in the rival TV station.
What can I hope for? That with the arrival of more networks and expansion of their coverage, the TV stations realize that this is not the way they should be functioning. Also the strong arrival independent Music Video makers (who appear to be marginalized in this politics) will also play a positive role in sidelining the politics of favoritism.