The innovative storyteller

- Post Report, Kathmandu
I love televisionjournalism and want to employ innovativetechniques instorytellingSaral Gurung

Dec 6, 2015-A radio jockey, film-maker and TV journalist, Saral Gurung, has always believed that journalism is the best means to bring about change in the society.

An innovative storyteller, Gurung has so far directed two documentaries—Hoddche, and Journey to Home—both of which have been received well by the audience.

The Post’s Sanjit Pradhananga had a quick chat with the film-maker/journalist to talk about his work and interests. Excerpts:  

Our readers would like to know a little more about you before we begin...

I am a simple person. I’m a working journalist who believes that journalism can be a tool for change. I was born in a simple middle-class family in Tanahu’s Purkot. I’ve been trying to make a career in broadcast journalism for the last seven years. I love television journalism and want to employ innovative techniques in storytelling. I like taking risks to tell stories. I was awarded for my coverage of the Jure Landslide in Sindupalchowk last year. It has encouraged me to do better.

You began your journey in the media world as an RJ at Nepal FM. How did you start?

I was a grade 11 student when I started my radio career. My college, Janamaitri Multiple Campus in Ravibhawan, was close to Nepal FM. I started working for Nepal FM, with my friends Binu Subedi and Bomlal Giri. We ran a show called Hamro Tole Chhimek, which was based on social issues.

After preparing the programme dummy several times, I showed it to the FM director, Hem Bahadur Bista. He gave it the green signal. When I heard my own voice on the radio for the first time, I felt like I had conquered the world.

For anyone who wants to make a career in journalism, it is important, first of all, to understand that journalism is not a business. Journalism could pay you enough to make a simple living, but it might not get you a handsome salary. So, for anyone who has high materialistic ambitions, journalism may not be a right profession to adopt. And if you think radio journalism is where your interest lies, you need the voice that supports your passion. If you have a pleasant voice, an interest in journalism, and if you are willing to work hard, radio journalism is for you.

What got you into documentary film making?

About six years ago, I had been to remote villages in Gorkha’s Mt Manaslu area on reporting assignments. In the Nubri and Chum areas, foreign visitors were not allowed to enter the Tibetan side, for security reasons. Manaslu is the world’s 7th highest mountain; but as there are no tourists visiting the region, the people there have experienced very little development. I did a story about the place in an attempt to introduce it to the tourists. I also made documentaries on it. That was how my journey as a film-maker began.

My stories made an impact.

Now, the area receives up to nine thousand tourist footfalls. The living standard of the villagers has improved. I have understood that it’s possible to bring about changes through documentaries, so I’ve started focusing on that now.

Your film Hoddche has been published online and has gained an enthusiastic response. Tell us more about it.

Hoddche is about forceful marriages that are practiced in the Himalayan region. The term means ‘request’ in the local lingo. The woman is first abducted and then the man appears before her parents, requesting that he be allowed to marry her. The groom has to make a lavish offer of gold, before the parents give their consent. The system has been practiced for years and is accepted in the Himalayan region. With the changing times, many youngsters from the region have started coming to the cities for education. When the girls return home, they become victims of the age-old practice. My film tries to capture that experience and is a voice against the tradition.

Your short film, Journey to Home, has been selected in the Seismic Shift category of this year’s KIMFF. How do you feel?

It is an extremely happy moment for me. Journey to Home is a story about how much people can do for the villages they hail from. In northern Gorkha, where I still have familial ties, relatives remembered me after the earthquake. A village in the eastern side of Barpak was also severely affected by the temblors. The only narrow trail that led to the place collapsed due to the earthquakes. The road was strewn with people and mules buried under the landslide. But for weeks, neither the government nor other organisations—that were helping with the rescue effort—discovered these people. No one arrived there for relief. Even the Nepal Army personnel refused to go there because there was no easy trail to get there. A group of 21 young men from the village, who were in Kathmandu, decided to go back home and help out the victims. They made their way past the dangerous landslip areas and rescued their fellow villagers. The documentary was shot through my phone, following the experience of this group of young men.

How do you think festivals like KIMFF help movie makers in a country like Nepal?

For young people interested in filmmaking, KIMFF is like a ladder. I have watched other films screened at KIMFF in the past. It’s a huge opportunity for filmmakers to be able to watch selections from across the world on one screen. Such an event is also a bridge between the audience and the filmmakers. The audience has a chance to share ideas and encourage filmmakers, which always goes a long way.

What other projects are you involved with?

Currently, I’m busy on the promotion of Hodchhe. I’m preparing to

screen it in the Himalayan region, because it is important the people in the region watch it. Further, I’m planning on making more short films in the future. Besides that, I work as a TV reporter.

Published: 06-12-2015 09:16

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