With actor/producer/director from the blockbuster “Loot” fame Nischal Basnet starring in the dark comedy “Ghamad Shere,” the expectations of the audience and film critics were high. Ghamad Shere—almost a ‘film noir’—starts promisingly. But by the time it reaches the interval, it kind of loses the plot and is then unable to climb back into the entertaining spectrum.
That’s what happened with the film’s reception too, we’re told. It started well in the cinema halls with a decent number of audiences in the weekend. But the turnout fell sharply in a couple days, adding to the low spots the film actually hits. The power of word-of-mouth can’t be ignored.
Written and directed by Hem Raj BC, Basnet plays the protagonist Sher Bahadur aka Shere, a Nepali migrant worker who has returned to his hometown in Chinchu, Surkhet. Shere, a naïve yet stubborn simpleton, buys a piece of land on the bank of the local Khahare River and settles there with his wife and son. He’s just begun cultivating the land when the river floods it, and he’s left with nothing. In an attempt to get compensation for his lost property, Shere ends up filing a case against the river.
The story has an interesting albeit not entirely new premise. We’ve seen protagonists challenging the ‘act of God’ or ‘force majeure’ before: “The Man Who Sued God” (2001), “Oh My God” (2012), to recall just two of the previous international movies. Yet, unlike those movies, its extended storytelling and lack of focus on the main conflict nearly sinks Ghamad Shere. Instead, there are way too many conflicts, without any of them satisfactory resolved. This gives the film a weak body even as it has multiple arms and legs, encumbering it and making it crawl rather than sprint.
Basnet puts in an average performance as the socially crude Shere. He sounds rude most of the times, does not understand the complexities of life, and easily resorts to physical violence. But he has no malice towards anyone and is in fact a harmless creature when not provoked. Basnet as Shere is convincing, and yet the lengthy screenplay more than once exposes his mediocre acting.
His real-life spouse Swastima Khadka on the other hand performs exceptionally well as Gauri, in the film his sister-in-law and an English teacher at a local school. Khadka is brilliant as the strict, assertive, yet loving and nurturing Gauri. She has a friendly and somewhat flirty relation with Shere but it doesn’t look wrong or sexual at all. Khadka with her acting skills maintains the dignity of her character and makes the audience love her in all the situations. After her insignificant roles in multi-starrers and loud comedies, Khadka as an actor has clearly come of age in Ghamad Shere. She doesn’t divulge from her character a bit and is pleasant to look at throughout.
One commendable fact about the storytelling is that it takes the film to western Nepal. Nepali cinema is travelling in terms of locations and we are no more forced to see only Kathmandu and Pokhara, or Manang/Mustang. If you are a wee politically inclined, the film also gives you a mini-course on the functioning of the new local governments, especially the judiciary, in the country.
Only if director BC had cut redundant sequences and focused on Shere’s fight for justice the film would have been so much better. But unfortunately the film spends too much time garnering sympathy for Shere. So much so that it becomes a borderline ‘yawn fest’ at one point. And no, irrespective of what rumors would have it, Ghamad Shere has absolutely nothing to do with Nepali Congress Chairman Sher Bahadur Deuba.
Who should watch it?
Basnet and Khadka don’t lack fans. And watching the two together on screen could be a treat for them. For others, the film is marginally below average and you may want to rethink how much spare time you have for it.
Rating: 2 stars
Length: 2 hrs 15 mins
Director: Hem Raj BC
Actors: Nischal Basnet, Swastima Khadka