This week, I wanted to watch a Nepali movie. To be honest, I kind of started missing the good old days when I’d go to the multiplex halls every week, popcorn in hand, parking coupon in the pocket, and try to enjoy whatever was presented on screen by Nepali filmmakers. I tried to relive the experience, although at home, streaming on a 43” inch screen on YouTube. Now the thing about YouTube or an OTT platform is, it gives you immense choice on what to watch as well as the option of skipping through boring parts. You can watch a 1hr 30-minute feature film in 15 minutes and still understand what’s going on.
I did the same this week. Not because I was in a hurry, but because some recent (pre-2020) movies I watched on YouTube did not deserve more than 10 minutes of attention, including a couple by Nepal’s highest-paid ‘film star’. Disappointed, I also began fearing for the future of the Nepali film industry. I cannot speak for all, but I am pretty sure a lot of multiplex audiences like me have been spoiled by OTTs where we can seamlessly watch movies from around the world on their personal screens and for a fraction of the price we spent in theaters. If the Nepali film industry does not step up its game, it’s going to collapse in a few years, I thought, while watching the opening credits of the 2019-film “Gopi.”
Written and directed by film journalist-turned-filmmaker Dipendra Lama, “Gopi” is a perfect example of the route Nepal could take to the OTT platform. It is a film that represents a part of Nepali society and projects it on screen without superficial distortions. Lama, who is known to stylistically stay closer to the real world than most Nepali filmmakers, directs the extremely talented Bipin Karki in the lead role of Sudhir aka Gopi. The actor-director duo tells the story of a common man who has been invisible in Nepali cinema for so many years.
Sudhir (Karki) is a college lecturer and a cattle farmer. So passionate is he about raising cows, he is even ready to give up even his girlfriend Sujata (Surakshya Panta) if forced into a choice. As it is, his relationship with his father (Prakash Ghimire) is stressful. The father wants him to apply for a US Green Card; Sudhir does not want to leave the country. Sudhir is like some of our youths who are determined to do something worthwhile in their homeland, and his father represents the many parents who’d spend millions of rupees to send their children abroad rather than support their trades or professions in the country itself.
As any common man would do, Sudhir struggles. A passionate farmer who loves cows, Sudhir has to fight through many difficulties to survive. His personal relationships are strained because of his choice of work, and this country, he finds, although it is still deemed an agricultural nation, is no country for poor farmers!
Sudhir’s story is so organic that had it not been for the background score and the multi-angle shots, it would seem like a documentary. But that’s also a setback for the film. In the pursuit of genuineness, imagination takes a backseat and thus the tempo suffers. Throughout its 2hr run-time, the film maintains a constant pace and never does anything more than portray Sudhir’s life as it is. The film’s inability to heighten conflicts at times, and a somewhat lazy climax, do not allow the film to maximize its true potential. Nonetheless, I’d watch Gopi half-a-dozen times than see the highest-paid Nepali actor disappoint with every expression.
Who should watch it?
Gopi is a family film and if you scroll through its comment section on OSR Digital’s official YouTube channel, you’ll notice many youths, especially those who have been forced to migrate abroad for work, identify with it closely. Still, this family entertainer is meant for people from all walks of lives and we highly recommend Gopi to all Nepali audiences as a preview of what Nepali movies on OTT might look like.
Director: Dipendra Lama
Cast: Bipin Karki, Barsha Raut, Surakshya Pant
Time: 2hrs 2mins