Having played lead roles in Nepali superhit movies “Pashupati Prasad” and “Talakjung vs Tulke”, Khagendra Lamichhane, 42, hardly needs an introduction. But there is more to his versatile personality, and it would be a shame, if not injustice, to ignore an equally skilled writer, director, and a theater artist in him.
Lamichhane’s first passion was writing, which still drives him the most. A big part of the success of the movies Talakjung vs Tulke (2014), Pasupati Prasad (2016), Dhanapati (2017), and Damaru ko Dandibiyo (2018) goes to his excellent off-the-beat script-writing.
As a movie director, Lamichhane will soon be meeting audiences with his upcoming “Paani Photo”, after having already directed plays and dramas including “Atal Bahadur Ko Aatanka”, and “Peeda Geet”.
Back in Pokhara in 1999, he got an early opportunity to train under Nepal’s well-known theater artists Anup Baral and Prakash Ghimire. “I learned a lot from them,” Lamichhane tells ApEx. The next year, he came to Kathmandu and joined Rastriya Naachghar as a student of Sunil Pokharel, putting him firmly on the path of show business.
Lamichhane grew up in Syangja district, an average village boy of Nepali hills, and with all the aspirations and frustrations of an angry young man. He went to college in Pokhara where he soon became a part of the local literary circle.
“Back then, I dreamed of becoming a writer,” he recalls. But at the same time, the theater roles he played at the time gave him “immense pleasure”.
He realized early in life the importance of expressing himself in writing. Expressing feelings, especially his dislikes, wasn’t easy for a child who grew up in a traditional society up where doing so would be considered ‘rude’ to elders. Boy Lamichhane thus started writing poems to vent his feelings. “Those were not excellent poems,” he recalls, but good enough to give him peace of mind.
Lamichhane is a keen observer of everyday human affairs and nothing that impacts people’s lives escapes him, and they all give him writing and acting ideas.
Lamichhane regards self-discipline as more important than actual art. “Self-discipline comes with maturity, and discipline improves your acting skills,” he shares. The discipline of stage came handy during his transition to the big screen.
If he has to select among writing, acting, and directing, Lamichhane says he would select writing without second thought. “Writing was a childhood dream that shaped the person that I am today,” he reflects, adding that he feels satisfied when people call him an aspiring writer.
“Even the actor and director in me are the product of my love of writing,” he adds.
He feels “excited and inspired” to recall that he came to Kathmandu with the dream of becoming a writer, and considers himself fortunate to have also gotten a chance to be an actor and director, “all because of people’s love.”
Lamichhane is not sure Nepal’s movie culture has overshadowed the local theater scene. No theater artist ever abandons theater, he says, adding it’s not uncommon for theater artists to be film actors and musicians, or vice-versa. “Theater adds to an actor’s maturity and confidence, allowing the person to excel in all art forms.”
Lamichhane says he finds it easy to act and direct based on his own script. But in that case there is the danger of the writer in him “dominating all aspects of film-making”.
Lamichhane’s career has seen some interesting turns. He worked for BBC Media Action as a drama writer, director, and editor for eight years. He had not applied for the job; it was his friend who had done so using his email address. It was also pure chance that he was invited to act in a movie, Manoj Pandit’s Badhshala released in April 2013.
The writer-actor-director doesn’t consider himself a man with long-term plan; he “goes with whatever attracts him the most at any given time.” His success mantra? Put everything into whatever you do. “If you put your heart into what you do, you can touch other people’s hearts as well,” he says.