I only heard about the movie “Ghampani” recently through a Twitter post. Someone had posted a scene from the movie, admiring its attention to detail and how cleverly the filmmakers had disguised a hidden message in the scene. Impressed, I decided to watch the movie, available officially on ‘HighlightsNepal’ YouTube channel, for this week’s review.
Turns out, the lighthearted social drama, the debut work of film critic turned writer/director Dipendra Lama, was a box office success when it released in theaters back in 2017. Right through his filmmaking career, Lama has given an impression of being someone rooted to society and its realities even in his works of fiction. Ghampani is one such representation that sums up Lama’s style of writing and directing stories, characters and settings that are the mirrors of our society.
In Ghampani, the peaceful existence of a rural village is disrupted when two people of different castes fall in love. Furba Tamang (Dayahang Rai) and Tara Sharma (Keki Adhikari) are childhood friends who grew up together and found comfort in each other’s company. While Furba is a local school teacher, Tara goes to Kathmandu for higher education and in one of her visits home, the affection between Furba and Tara grows deeper as they confess their love to each other.
Their families, especially Tara’s, are totally against this relationship. Tara’s father Pitambar (Prakash Ghimire) and Furba’s father Maila (Puskar Gurung) are the best of friends and neighbors. This duo of inseparable friends who fight for each other now fight against each other as they do not want their children to get married. Then enters Kamal Adhikari (Ankeet Khadka), a police assistant sub-inspector, into the scene. Pitambar arranges for his daughter to get married to Kamal, which creates further conflict.
Through the love story of Tara and Furba, Ghampani highlights the inherent casteism of Nepali society. People may seem to live in peace and harmony on the outside, but it only needs one little spark to trigger a communal conflagration and raise inherent caste-based differences. Tara and Furba are victims of this caste-based system as their own families and friends become their foes just because they decided to be with each other.
Writer/director Lama sets the scene of a typical Nepali village. He keeps the film grounded in reality and organic in the sense that even the fictionalized account of Furba and Tara could well be a real story of an inter-caste couple in Nepal. There is little exaggeration in storytelling and the same artistry is applied in acting as well.
The caste of Ghampani fit their nearly custom-made roles. Even the supporting characters have well-defined objectives and they proficiently fulfill them with the simplicity required in the setting. Unlike most Nepali movies that depend on putting their central characters in the spotlight, almost every supporting character stands out in Ghampani, which shows the amount of effort the writer has put in.
Coming to the leads, established actors Dayahang Rai and Keki Adhikari are their natural self. Their performance in their respective lead roles is not otherworldly but there is nothing much to criticize either. Both fit into their roles comfortably and deliver what is expected. The actual show-stealer though is the relatively new actor Ankeet Khadka.
Khadka plays Kamal, a lecherous and corrupt policeman who has his eyes on Tara as well as other women in the village. The conniving Kamal, who tricks Tara’s father Pitambar into agreeing to his marriage proposal, is the villain in the love story. Actor Khadka manages to invoke every bit of hatred required by his character. At the same time, he does not let his character get too dark and keeps to the film’s lighthearted nature. Khadka puts in an excellent performance despite getting much less screen time.
Who should watch it?
The film was a hit so there's a high chance most of our audience might have already watched it. But considering how the film is not talked about much, we can assume there are still plenty of those who are yet to see it. If you like Nepali films that have an organic story instead of wirework stunts and brain shaking dialogues, Ghmapani will most definitely entertain you. Don’t miss it.
Rating: 4 stars
Actors: Dayahang Rai, Keki Adhikari, Ankeet Khadka
Director: Dipendra Lama
Run time: 1hr 53mins