Beware of the new Nepali cinema

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Beware of the new Nepali cinema

Jul 12, 2012-

When it came to cinemas in January this year, the Nepali action movie Loot, laden with profanity, took urban youngsters by storm. Another recent release, Chapali Height, has earned considerable notoriety for focusing on the theme of sex psychology. It has caused a heated debate between young movie goers and the more conservative older generation. Both movies enjoyed commercial success, which wasn’t always the case for Nepali films that depict the bad and the bawdy. They’ve successfully directed the interest of an urban population towards Nepali movies, which in itself is no small achievement. A discussion was held at the Martin Chautari premises in Thapathali today with Arjun Kumar, director of Chapali Height and Nischal Basnet, director of Loot based on the topic ‘Sex in Nepali cinema: Aesthetics or nudity’ where the directors had a hard time defending their own movies.

“We all are bored of orthodox Nepali films; the script is the same every time so I wanted to bring something different to entertain the crowd,” said Basnet, adding that a few months back, it would not have been very astonishing to find vacant seats at a theatre screening Nepali films. According to him, they “lacked the quality to attract an urban audience with cosmopolitan taste”. From its first week in theatres, however, Loot managed to convert an entire generation of Nepali film un-enthusiasts. But how much of that had to do with truly addressing the evolving sensibilities of their audience?

Both directors claimed that the use of nudity and sexually explicit language in their films was intrinsic to carrying the story forward, but said that they increasingly feel that filmmakers have wrongly begun to perceive the use of such elements as a key ingredient to ensure commercial success.

 “We faced a barrage of criticisms for road accidents near Thankot,” said Kumar whose film’s posters—with a barely clad cast—created a lot of controversy . “Complaints were filed against the posters of our film. Many believed that they diverted drivers’ attention which resulted in accidents.”

When the traffic police took the posters off hoarding boards, Kumar and his team were compelled to put up new posters—this time with the actors in the same pose, but ‘decently’ clothed.

The lack of proper formulation of rules and boundaries in film direction, both said, is a growing concern in the industry. “Young children are permitted to watch adult rated movies and even the members of the censor board lack expertise on the field of film direction,” Basnet said, noting that though filled with aesthetics and authenticity, such films aren’t for everyone.

The discussion also directed its attention to the upcoming film ATM that has been accused of containing sexually explicit language and images merely as a marketing gimmick. Protesters have also been signing online petitions to ban the movie.

The topic of sexuality has caused debates ever since the inception of theatre and the performing arts. At Martin Chautari, the audience proved to be an eclectic mix, representing the wide range of views that currently hover in Nepali society. While some in the audience were extremely reluctant to accept the changes filmmakers like Kumar and Basnet are trying to usher into Nepali cinema, there were also many who support them and welcome new trends.

Published: 13-07-2012 08:41

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