Covid-19 has made the cinema industry fragile. All of us are trying to cope with the situation and at this juncture, even small progress gives us hope and confidence. If we look at the pre-Dashain periods of the past three years, we can see a huge difference between them, and that captures our situation.
Normally, Dashain would bring in a handful of cinemas to the theaters. As completing a movie takes a few months, or even years, preparation for its Dashain release had to start at least in February or March.
If we look back at the Dashain of 2019, the year before the pandemic, everything was going according to plan. Dashain gave us several blockbusters. When we started preparing for the next Dashain, unfortunately, the pandemic hit us badly.
We didn’t see any Nepali movies released anywhere during the pandemic. We didn’t have the market. There were a lot of movies in the pipeline just looking for a releasing platform. They will get their turn as the lockdown is now eased. Most importantly, cinema halls are reopening.
I hope people will come to the halls to watch movies. We have all come this far in the pandemic, so entertainment is what everyone wants. Nepali movies will hopefully deliver what the audiences want. So, Dashain particularly has boosted the energy on both sides of the screen; it’s like a lucky charm.
I think the pandemic has also brought home some important lessons. It affected the entire world, but the Nepali film industry suffered disproportionately as we do not have the concept of OTT platforms. Movies continued to be released all over the world, but we did not know what’s next. So, let’s say Covid-19 came with some positivity in terms of the lessons that we learned. At least, we now realize the importance of online platforms. We are now more into low-budget quality movies—also a great initiative. This Dashain has come with great hopes, let’s wait to see how it delivers.
There are still a lot of things that can be improved. We have to maintain our quality, otherwise people won’t come to the halls just to sympathize with us. All the related sectors and authorities should collaborate to improve our situation.
We have enough movies and yet the halls are back with foreign films. This has to change, which is only possible if we deliver the goods. Also, during this pandemic, audiences have followed foreign movies of exceptional quality and they will have high expectations from us too. Now, there are no other shortcuts or options except to constantly improve ourselves. Catchy movie songs and a high glamor quotient alone won’t be able to lure audiences any more.
Since the second wave of Covid-19, we have worked on new movies too. I have already completed two movies and am going for another two. Fingers crossed.