Entertainment

Breaking Kollywood’s glass ceiling

  • The Nepali movie industry might be in its golden period, but women filmmakers are still few and far between
- Aakriti Dhital, Kathmandu

Apr 12, 2017-The Nepali movie industry, you could argue, is currently in its golden period—new genres are being explored, moviemaking is becoming more advanced and box office returns have never been better. But, moviemaking is still largely driven by men, a topic highlighted at the IAWRT Women’s Film Festival held in the Capital on Monday. 

In an effort to acknowledge, motivate, promote and empower women filmmakers, the festival screened eight short films directed by women filmmakers from Cameroon, Malaysia, India, Nepal, China, Japan, USA/Bangladesh and the Philippines and saw several panel discussions about women in media and filmmaking.

Throughout the day, however, the question of women’s participation in filmmaking in Nepal arose time and again. In one panel discussion, titled Film Production Scenario for Women in Nepal, journalist and professor RK Regmi highlighted the fact that the lack of women in filmmaking has resulted into stereotypical female characters in movies. “Men define women’s roles in movies. Hence, they paint female characters as helpless, soapy and over-emotional—traits they think make up a woman. Only when women take charge of their characters will the scenario change.”

Speaking to the Post, Suchitra Shrestha, who was the first woman to direct a Kollywood movie (Prem Yuddha, 2004), said, “With my first movie, I had difficulties finding distributors. While people were encouraging in person, they would denigrate my hard work and dedication, and pass mysogynistic comments behind my back. It was a tough time. Thankfully, Sunil Manandhar’s Balaji Films agreed to distribute my film at the end. I am forever grateful to him.”

Deepa Shree Niraula, the director of Kollywood’s highest grosser, Chakka Panja, feels that direction is all about teamwork. “Oftentimes, women don’t get a supportive, responsive team to take their vision forward. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a team that’s accommodating to my vision for the movie.” She also asserted that revolution in the industry had already begun. “Change is happening. Rekha Thapa came up with a women-centric movie, Himmatwali, which was well received by the audience. Nisha Adhikari and many of my women colleagues have ventured into production and other aspects of movie-making.”

Rajeela Shrestha, a final year film student at Oscar International College, whose short film, Radio Melamchi 107.2, was screened at the festival, believes that even though women moviemakers are still few and far in between, things look to be changing for the better. Speaking to the Post, Shrestha expressed her discontent regarding how families discourage girls from pursuing their dream of filmmaking in Nepali societies. She added, “We’re taught that an academic dream is only a dream worth pursuing. While men are given the freedom to defy these norms, women are not. Out of the thirty-four students in my class at college, thirty-three are men. However, times are changing. In the newest batch that got admitted into the college, there are six women. This is a positive sign of change.”

Suchitra Shrestha, also the president of Nepal Film Director’s Guild, agreed that times are changing, however slowly. “The industry is much more welcoming and cooperative to female filmmakers than it was in the past. The environment for women filmmakers has improved drastically. As of present, we have 12 women feature filmmakers in the industry, seven of whose movies have already released and was well-received by the audience. The films by the other five are currently in production and post production phase. Hopefully, this marks a real change, and is not just a flash in the pan.”

Published: 12-04-2017 09:52

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