Revolutionary Upswing of Nepali Films

Written by Sampiya Raj Timalsina

Within half a year of 2074, five Nepali movies were declared as ‘superhits’ at the box office. This is a rare milestone in Nepali movie industry because throughout the last year, the same number of movies had held its breakeven points only.

This year, movies like ‘Ghampani’, ‘Ma Yesto Geet Gaauchu’, ‘Prem Geet 2’, ‘Ae Mero Hajur’ and ‘Chakka Panja 2’ did fantastic business. Except ‘Ghampani’, all movies held their stronghold at big screens and collected gross income of over five crores. It is even estimated that ‘Chakka Panja 2’ has ruled the box office by collecting over 15 crores. With close analysis, it can be speculated that the filmmakers have collected a profit of at least two to five crores.

The success of these high grossing films is not an abrupt event; in fact, it is the result of influences among viewers that Nepali movies had wielded in the yesteryears. Clearly, it is the result of how Nepali films took gradual steps and produced fascinating movies, finally convincing the viewers that even Nepali movie makers are talented enough to make good movies. Various reasons attributed to the success of Nepali cinema: increasing entry of amazing young talents, improvement in filmmaking skills, transition in storyline, and anti-Indian sentiments to pinpoint a few. These factors have influenced in attracting the audience to Nepali films.

Revolutionary Upswing 30 wave I november -december 2017 November – december 2017 I wave 31 The total population of Nepal is nearly three crores, and statistics indicate thatonly 0.03 percent of them watch Nepali movies. Nepal mostly comprises villages, and since agriculture is the backbone of Nepalese economy, entertainment does not fall under priority of majority of the people. Besides, the number of people preferring to watch movies in cinema halls is minimal due to the lack of enough cinema halls in the country, especially in he rural areas. Moreover, the existing cinema halls are substandard. Thus, audience of Nepali movies is limited.

However, in the recent years, remittance-supported economy has replaced subsistence economy, and it has contributed in the growth of Nepali film industry. Today, the density of population has increased in major cities of the country, and most people—enriched in life with remittance—have started to go to cinema halls to watch movies. This can be indicated by the increasing number of audience thronging in multiplexes operated in cities outside the capital.

Technical advancement—especially the revolutionary upswing in cinematography—has enhanced the quality of Nepali films. Today, Nepali filmmakers use same video camera that filmmakers in Bollywood use, and the use of quality gadget is the main factor that has contributed in enhancing the quality of Nepali movies. Similarly, improvement in the quality of technical aspects such as background music, colour correction, editing and others have contributed in lifting Nepali movies to the standards of global cinema. Issues of story and styles of its presentation are biggest changes seen in Nepali movies. Earlier, Nepali movies were mere replication of Bollywood movies. As a result, viewers had lost faith in Nepali movies.

But today, the filmmakers of younger generation have not only stopped following Bollywood movies but also their storytelling-styles. Today, Nepali movies have its unique aura that has now started captivating the audience. Movies like ‘Kabbadi’, ‘Pashuati Prasad’, ‘Dying Candle’, ‘Kalo Pothi’, ‘Chakka Panja’ constituted unique stories, and these kinds of movies are gradually restoring faith of Nepali movie industry that had been lost for the last 50 years.

Commercial successes have followed the uniqueness of new movies. Although ‘Kalo Pothi’ and ‘Pashupati Prasad’ did not gain unbelievable gross income like Hollywood and Bollywood movies, they have managed to gain commercial success, proving that viewers are acknowledging the transitional improvement in storyline and its presentation. For years, there were no records of art-house cinema, but today, 15 out of 100 movies are produced under this genre. Although not all of them secure commercial success, yet they play an important role in engaging the audience who believes that movie industry should be dynamic.

“Unlike in the past, Nepali movies have
started to make fantastic business of
up to 15 crores, indicating that Nepali
film fraternity is restoring faith of
Nepali movie industry that had been
lost for the last 50 years.”

Stardom is the heart of cinema because it plays a dynamic role in expanding the film fraternity except in a few exceptional cases. Nepali movies have found a new lease of life because actors from newer generation have created and maintained their stardom. Stardom of Anmol KC, Paul Shah and Samragyee R.L. Shah has played a vital role to attract more moviegoers in cinema halls.

In the recent past, Rajesh Hamal somehow engaged audiences with his similar getup and acting chops. However, too much sugar is known to taste bitter, and just like this, there came a time when people even avoided lending an ear to the names of Nepali movies. Nikhil Uprety and Birat Bhatta also played meaningless films just to engage the audience.

The quality of Nepali films further deteriorated as filmmakers focused more on mass rather than class of the people. As a result, there came a time when the audiences could not be convinced to go to watch Nepali movies. The situation further worsened during the civil war. Cinema halls operated in villages remained completely shut down, whereas in cities, people started preferring to stay indoors before the evening approached. The fear of war and destruction among people curtailed their inclination to entertainment. As such, up until 2068, the situation of Nepali films was dismal.

However, the release of ‘Loot’ brought respite from the dismal situation of Nepali film industry. Not only that, it even attracted new generation of filmmakers to filmmaking. This resulted in the introduction of new talents in the industry. Actors like Saugat Malla, Dayahang Rai, Bipin Lamichhane and Khagendra Lamichhane have carried the legacy of Nepali filmmaking. The viewers who were tired of watching monotonous roles of Rajesh Hamal and Nikhil Uprety had slowly started to favour Nepali film.

The psychology of a nation also plays an immense role in the interest of people in music, literature and cinema. The creativity of these fields resonates with the psychology of the nation. The increasing market of pop culture and songs laced with drunkenness indicates that the nation is shifting from sadness to happiness. Increasing popularity of comedy movies shows how people are trying to laugh while forgetting their worries. Along with the end of war, the inferiority complex in people has come to an end, and people have become more patriotic now than ever. The love for their nation has seeped into their lives in unknowing ways. The people who used to love international brands are now more proud of Nepali products, be it shoes or cinema. Nepali products remain close to their hearts despite their flaws. The Nepali cinema has been able to reap benefits from this psychology.

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