Take Nepali cinema to the global stage within one decade
Three ways to realize the vision:
1) By working to remove red-tape and bureaucratic hurdles for filmmaking.
2) By providing visual literacy and being responsible to the stakeholders of Nepali cinema.
3) By capturing our rich socio-cultural diversity and untold stories through our films.
Even though cinema, art, culture, and literature are interrelated, the Nepal government has put art, culture, and literature under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, while cinema comes under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. With the changing times, the purpose of cinema has changed too, but the government doesn’t seem to realize this, creating unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles in building links within our fraternity. This is just one among many problems plaguing our film industry.
I believe the government should provide a favorable environment for those wanting to shoot films in Nepal. Many Nepalese shoot only to be frustrated by red-tape and hassles. For instance, if someone wants to take a scene featuring an army or police personnel, they first need to get the approval for uniform-use from the concerned headquarters. But police or army characters in novels or paintings don’t have to seek such approvals. Not that I am jealous of other mediums of art. I just wish the rules for cinema were relaxed too. Otherwise, these sorts of time- and money-consuming hassles will greatly demotivate filmmakers. Also there is no censorship on any other forms in art and there is no censorship in films in many countries in the globe, where there is a good industry of film. Whereas, there shouldn't be censorship on films in Nepal.
I believe Nepal can make itself known in the world through its cinema. This might sound ambitious, but it’s not that difficult if we can do certain things right.
A movie-maker’s vision and visual literacy determine the fate of their cinema. Visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables an individual to understand and analyze contextual, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, intellectual, and technical components involved in production and use of visual materials. If we can make better movies, the visual literacy of our audiences will also enhance, in turn making them good critics.
The prevailing social mindset also determines the mentality of an individual. If you take that individual as an audience, his social orientation will depend on the movies he watches. For instance, before the establishment of Gurukul, the theater scene in Nepal was facing an existential crisis. But in the past two decades, it has been backed by good audiences. Why? Because existing theaters oriented these audiences a certain way. Most importantly, they passed their thoughts to the upcoming generation. Now, the theaters will go extinct only if there is a massive change in audience mindset. This is a part of visual literacy, so it is important to develop a strong base for long-term sustenance of your medium.
Separately, there is a conventional belief that shooting in Nepal is all about mountains. That’s not true. Many things happening in our society can be reflected in our cinema. If Nepali filmmakers could take up those stories, foreign projects will approach us for similar content, thus diversifying our offerings.
Our country’s recent political changes, for instance, could be great cinema-material. The Nepali cinema industry’s credibility could also help politicians better understand our society and citizens. Those in the government can see the movies as their examiners, pointing to the possible areas of improvement in the society. If the government wants, it can make cinema a weapon for social transformation as films are a powerful mass awareness tool and people tend to copy things in them.
But we as filmmakers also have to do our bit. Our team has been working on some agendas and I would like to share them with all because even if I cannot achieve them all, someone else will. In the next few years, we are working to establish a world-class film school in Nepal where youngsters can pursue higher studies. Prior to that we are trying to organize an international film festival within a few years in order to create a momentum for the creation of a cinema hub in Nepal. Our team is also working to generate monetary support for filmmakers through the government, public institutions as well as through private funding, and distribute world cinema in Nepal. In fact, the FDB has already started financially supporting small-scale filmmakers.
Lastly, we must promote socio - cultural exchange through films. For example, if a filmmaker is shooting in Manang, he must inggage local talents, cultures, local spirits, and languages in order to keep the authenticity of the film. We shouldn't go there only for the landscape.
I am confident that addressing these things will elevate the status of Nepali cinema, ultimately making it world-class. Even if the government doesn’t help us, we will still achieve our goals as the upcoming generation already has the requisite learning, content, and aesthetic and technical skills. It is just a matter of time.
1. Which Nepali filmmaker/s do you admire the most?
Deepak Rauniyar, Abinash Bikram Shah, Nabin Subba, Pooja Gurung and Bibhusan Basnet etc.
2. How do you define a ‘good movie’?
For me, a good film is one that gives me pleasure, challenges my intelligence, and encourages me to reflect on society that could hit my mind & soul and be memorable forever.
3. A quote you live by.
“Cinema without risk is like having no sex and expecting to have a baby. You have to take risks.” - Francis Ford Coppola