Cinema of Nepal


Cinema of Nepal

Nepal does not have a very long film history but the industry has its own place in the cultural heritage of the country. Most Nepali films use Bollywood-style songs and narrative and are shot on 16-millimeter film. In film industry parlance, Kathmandu, the capital and center of the Nepali-language film industry, is called Kollywood (or Kaliwood as an alternate spelling) within Nepal (not to be confused with India's Tamil-language film industry, Kollywood, based in Chennai).

Contents

History

The making of Nepali films is said to have begun with D.B. Pariyar's Satya Harishchandra, which was the first Nepali-language film to be shot. It was produced from Kolkata, India, and was released on September 14, 1951. Aama (meaning mother) was the first film produced in Nepal, and was released on October 7, 1964. It was produced by the Information Department of His Majesty's Government of Nepal (now Government of Nepal). It was directed by Hira Singh Khatri and the lead actors were Shiva Shankar Manandhar and Bhuwan Chand, who are regarded as the first actors in the history of the Nepali film industry.

The first film to be produced under a private banner was Maitighar (meaning the birth home of a girl), which was released at the end of 1966 by Sumonanjali Films Pvt. Ltd. Although it was a Nepali movie, it had many Indians contributing toward the making of the film. Mala Sinha played the lead role, along with Chidambar Prasad Lohani, whom she later married. It had special appearances of Sunil Dutt and comedian Rajendra Nath. Directed by B.S. Thapa and music scored by Jaidev, a veteran music maestro, it had Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar and Manna Dey, all of whom were established Indian singers, doing the playback singing by Prem Dhoj Pradhan, C.P. Lohani and Aruna Lama.

The Nepal government established the Royal Nepal Film Corporation in 1971. Mann Ko Bandh was the first film produced by the corporation. Prakesh Thapa was the director of the film. Nati Kaji and Shiva Shankar were the music composers of the songs. Amber Gurung scored the background music. The film premiered in 1973 in Kathmandu. Mann Ko Bandh was followed by Kumari (the first Eastman color Nepali film) in 1977, Sindoor in 1980, and Jeevan Rekha in a series. The success of these films opened up the avenue for private parties to enter into filmmaking as an industrial endeavor.

The movie Paral Ko Aago, directed by Pratap Subba, was produced by Ceneroma in 1978. The black-and-white movie proved to be a great success due to its story and melodious music. The music director of the movie, Shanti Thatal, was the first female music director in Nepali movies. Lyrics were prepared by Manbahadur Mukhiya and Indra Thapaliya and the songs were sung by Aruna Lama, Dawa Gyalmo, Pema Lama, Shankar Gurung and Deepa Gahatraj (Jha). The actors of the movie were Tanka Sharma, Basundhara Bhusal, I.K. Singh, Menuka Pradhan, etc. Pratap Subba was also the scriptwriter. The movie was based on a popular book by Guru Prasad Mainali with the same title.

Golden era

After the 1980s, some relatively more creative films were made and they became successful too. Thus, filmmaking started to appear a little more viable profession and the number of productions increased a bit. After the introduction of private companies in the Nepali film industry, the time came when more films were being made and they were much more accepted by Nepali audiences. Films such as Samjhana, Kusume Rumal, Lahure, Kanchi, Basudev, Saino and Koseli, which were released between 1984 and 1993, were very popular. The leading actors of those times were Bhuwan K.C. and Tripti Nadakar, whose on-screen chemistry saw them being dubbed the "golden couple" of the Nepali film industry. In the later years of the decade, the industry saw the rise of Rajesh Hamal and Karishma Manandhar.

In 1990, the country witnessed an important political change in Nepal. The people’s movement brought monarchy to its knees and democracy was restored. The society started to become open and vibrant. This had an important consequence for the fledgling film industry: it began to grow rapidly, or even to "bloat", if one might call it so. There was an unprecedented growth in number of productions. Within a period of three years, some 140 films were made. Distribution started to develop. Market share in the existing market increased and the market itself expanded. Cinema halls increased to more than 300. Nepali filmmakers became optimistic of displacing Hindi films, which had dominated the Nepali market.

Conflict era

The start of the Maoist revolution in Nepal in the mid-1990s was the beginning of the downfall of the Nepali film industry. In the period of war and conflict, only a very small number of films were made, and audience numbers fell sharply. It resulted in lower budgets and even lower performances, which resulted in even smaller audiences. In the later years of the conflict, the production and release of Nepali films had almost come to a standstill. Many actors and filmmakers left the country in search for work abroad because there were very few films being made. Actors like Saroj Khanal, Shiva Shrestha, Karishma Manandhar, Tripti Nadakar, Kristi Mainali and Gauri Malla had little work.

However, during the 1990s, some filmmakers, mostly with non-fiction base, started championing for a new kind of cinema. They denounced the crude imitation of Bollywood aesthetics and demanded indigenous aesthetics and a more realistic approach. They made some films which have received some critical acclaim at home and some international recognition. Historic movies like Balidan and Seema Rekha made during this period were appreciated both by critics and audience.

In 2001, the highest-grossing Nepali film Darpan Chaya was made. It was directed by Tulsi Ghimire and starred Dilip Rayamajhi, Niruta Singh and Uttam Pradhan. It earned NRs 20 million at the box office.

Present situation

By 2006, as the situation in Nepal calmed down and with Maoists coming into mainstream politics, the Nepali film industry started to return to its previous state. Today, more films are being made and released. The production companies and those in the industry are enthusiastic about the country's new situation. The return of peace in the country has opened more venues for the shooting of films, and the industry is seen to be making good use of this time to revive the image of the industry.

New generation movie makers geared up to make sensible cinema with entertainment rather than Bollywood inspired socio-actions. Kagbeni, Sano Sansar, Mero Euta Saathi Cha, First Love, Kohi Mero, etc. are some of the fine example of quality cinema in terms of presentation, performance, story and technical superiority.

Film Development Board

The Film Development Board (FDB) was established by the Government of Nepal for the development and promotion of the Nepali film industry. The Board is a liaison to facilitate the conceptualization, making, distribution and exhibition of Nepali films nationally. The Board also attempts to bridge the gap between film entrepreneurship and government bureaucracy. The Board is a balance between the people at large, the government, and the process of filmmaking. It is, therefore, the safeguard of the interests of the people, the watchdog of the government, and the advocate of filmmakers. However, FDB has not yet done enough in supporting and promoting different aspects of motion-picture production in Nepal. It has also not been able to promote Nepali films in the international market as desired.

Nepal as a location

Due to its vast cultural diversity, geographical situation and its natural beauty, Nepal has been able to portray itself as one of the beautiful shooting location for filmmakers in the past couple of years. Many films from India and abroad have been filmed in Nepal. The most internationally acclaimed film that was shot in Nepal was the Academy Award-nominated Caravan, a film by French director Éric Valli.

Selected films

List of Nepalese films

See also

External links


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