Whiff of change
- With movies like Jhola, Suntali and Zhigrana, Nepali movie industry seems to be entering a new era
Mar 14, 2015-
Until the popular culture of India penetrated my world of entertainment, I grew up watching Kollywood movies. Made in Kathmandu. Once I started picking up Hindi, the stories manufactured and marketed from Mumbai replaced Nepali movies. The high amount of investment in Bollywood has historically ensured better screenplay, better cinematography, and better sound effects compared to those in conventional Nepali movies. Mumbai’s glamour has also been successful allowing the movies reach a wider audience in South Asia. Once I started watching Hollywood, the emotional intensity in majority of Bollywood movies started to seem rather unimaginative and inadequate. There was a long phase when Bollywood focused on mass production of identical stories—romance between a boy and girl, parental opposition to love, and melodrama. Kollywood was and even is, to a large extent, reproducing similar stories, wrapped in cheesy dialogue, predictable plotline, and worse cinematography.
Just like books, good movies should be capable of enriching their audience’s experience. Good movies succeed at taking their audience on a journey that stimulates their thoughts and imagination. Successful movie producers and directors do things differently. They challenge the standard practices and ‘status quo’ in the movie industry. Most movies, both in Kollywood and Bollywood, fail to depart from the usual ‘fairy tale’ imagination of love, with the notion of a happy ending. The melodramatic movies do very little beyond carving hopeless romantics—the sentimental dreamers. A good movie produces a storyline that is ‘out of the box’, captures in reel the events that have at least some resemblance to real life, educates the audience, and packages the content with the kind of visual and audio effects that keeps the audience hooked.
But, finally, Kollywood appears to be at the cusp of a major transition, introducing movies with imaginative stories and creative execution. Zhigrana—a suspense thriller not only educates the audience but also keeps the curiosity alive until the end of the movie. A film by Pasang Lama, Zhigrana, appears to be the movie that could restore public’s faith in Nepali movies. The movie is a fine piece of work—a juxtaposition of laughter and shivers, of traditional myths and scientific explanations. Any innovative Nepali product, I believe, should get the attention it deserves. And the innovation in Zhigrana is beautifully wrapped in jaw-dropping cinematography, goose bumps-producing sound effects, and a mysterious storyline. Throughout the movie, your best guess regarding whether the story is driven by 19th-century myths and traditions of ‘human sacrifice’ in a rural place called Zhigrana or whether it is purely horror will most probably be wrong.
Zhigrana appears builds on the relatively recent momentum of some movies departing from the conventional unimaginative trend and to be a turning point. Jhola portrayed the sati tradition, in which women are forced to burn themselves alive on their husband’s funeral pyre. Suntali succeeded because of actress Priyanka Karki’s impeccable acting skills. Nischal Basnet’s Talakjung vs Tulke was to be widely appreciated and Jerryy won many young hearts for portraying a harsh reality of love that movies often choose to ignore.
Nepali movies have appeared to have been trapped in a vicious cycle, preventing the industry from making a major leap forward. Movie producers make an economic decision of producing low-budget films because they are convinced there is no real market for their product. Nepali audience thinks it is not worth spending their precious bucks on a Nepali movie because of its low quality. One party taking the risk while judging the potential outcome could be viewed in light of ‘game theory’ in economics. Zhigrana seems to have done a favour to other Nepali producers by testing the waters. Hopefully, this becomes a major turning point in the evolution of Nepali movie industry.
Ghimire is a Brown University graduate
Published: 15-03-2015 08:49