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My Vision for Nepal | Internationally acclaimed Nepali movies

Khagendra Lamichhane

Khagendra Lamichhane

My Vision for Nepal | Internationally acclaimed Nepali movies

Khagendra Lamichhane is an actor, director and writer | Photos: Pratik Rayamajhi

Internationally acclaimed Nepali movies

Three ways to realize the vision: 

1) Strong and effective policy for the film industry.
2) Government grants to promote original Nepali films.
3) Practical and skill-oriented teaching.

My Vision for Nepal

For any industry’s progress, a proper policy and its implementation are a must. Sadly, the Nepali film industry fails on both the fronts. What it needs is a strong policy and its strict implementation.

We have a culture of not following set guidelines and policies. This is why, despite our country’s progressive laws and policies, we remain the least developed. This is because there is no authority to check if our plans are being properly implemented.

For the Nepali film to achieve international renown, which is my vision, the government also has a crucial role to play. But our government treats cinema as entertainment and not an art form, which is a disgrace. It has little interest in promoting Nepali films.

Many Nepalis understand and speak Hindi. This is because of the influence of Indian films, songs and TV shows. How many Indians understand Nepali language? Have we ever thought about this? Many young Nepalis today also understand the cultures of South India and South Korea through movies and shows. This is what films can do. It is a very powerful medium. So why are we not promoting Nepali films and by extension Nepali culture?

Some states in India like Manipur have gone to the length of banning Hindi language movies to promote local films in their native language. I am not saying we too should ban foreign movies, from which we can otherwise learn a lot. But we should at least promote our own films both at home and abroad. 

We should strive to make films that are original, that are true to our culture and lifestyle. And the government should support and promote them. Surely, action movies do commercially well around the world. But when it comes to prestigious awards like the Oscars, original, thought-provoking stories get the primacy. So Nepali filmmakers should focus on telling original stories rather than sticking to formulaic storylines.

They should explore genres other than action to draw an international audience. In any case, we lack the expertise, technology and budget to make action films that can attract foreign moviegoers. So why not focus on stories that show our society and culture instead? 

The Nepali cinema industry is over five-decade old. But only a few of our movies have been recognized in international film circuits. Bhutan’s film industry is much younger, and yet this year one of its films is in the Oscars race in the best foreign film category. Shouldn’t we be learning from Bhutan? 

The Bhutanese government produces movies that are original and reflect the country’s culture. Our government could also take a similar approach to promote Nepali culture abroad through films. 

If our government provided grants for just two films a year, it would be a good start, greatly encouraging filmmakers to tell more experimental and original stories.  

In Nepal, we also don’t even have a proper box office system. Nobody knows exactly how much money our movies make. Officials from the Film Development Board call us and ask for revenue figures. Why can’t we set up a box office for this?

Our cinema halls also need a major upgrade to maintain uniformity. If you go and watch the same movie in five different theaters, you will walk out with five different tastes and tones. The director’s vision is compromised as a result. Yes, things are changing with technology but that change needs to happen in theaters and multiplexes across the country. 

Another important thing is education. We need comprehensive courses with more focus on skill development and experiments. Our curriculum doesn’t allow us to master professional skills. Our education system prioritizes theoretical knowledge, which takes students nowhere. 

Skills are the most important, and not just in filmmaking.

I can say so based on my own wife’s experience. She is a gold medalist student from the Tribhuvan University. The day after the President recognized her for her academic achievement, she confided in me that she felt underskilled and unqualified to get a decent job. Such is the education system of our country.

Also, many young people who are passionate about filmmaking send me their scripts. I am not impressed. Some of them don’t even know how to type in Nepali and send their stories in Roman script. This shows the standard of our schooling.   

In order to create skilled professionals in any field, Nepal should overhaul its education system.  

Quick Questions:

What would you be were you not an actor or writer?

I would have been a farmer.

Who is your inspiration in the film industry?

That I got into acting was a coincidence. I did a play, which in turn paved my path into movies. I had the best time of my life when I did my first play and decided to continue on the path. So I must say I am self-motivated.

A quote you live by.

‘Allow yourself to accept reality’.