Text by Abish Shakya
Photo by Arwind Chhetri
Ganesh Panday grew up in the village of Chiti, Lamjung, where he did his primary schooling. He moved to Besisahar, the district headquarters of Lamjung, where he completed the rest of his schooling from Jana Bikash Secondary School, while actively involving in social works and fighting for humanity as a chairperson of Junior Red Cross in his alma mater. After turning 17 in 2000 AD, he completed his schooling and started his career in journalism as a
reporter for Karmada Weekly, a local newspaper.
Panday’s parents were horrified with his decision of being a journalist at the terrible time when Maoist civil war was going on; the time when journalists were being killed; bombs exploding everywhere, and innocent people were being killed. Despite his parents’ constant trail to demotivate him, Panday did cut the mustard, and entered the field of his interest ‘Journalism’.
Panday worked for various media organizations, including Nepal Samacharpatra Daily, Radio Nepal, Synergy FM, Chitwan FM and Machhapuchhre FM at various intervals of time. He also had co-founded ‘Lamjung Highlight Weekly’ with senior journo Krishna KC and served as Sub-Editor. Panday who worked as Executive Editor for Aantaranga, a local newspaper, also worked as News Anchor for Radio Marshyangdi. Later, he served in Nepal 1, television media based in New Delhi, as News Anchor, and later as News Editor.
In 2008, Panday returned to Nepal and started working as an investigative journalist for ABC Television, later becoming Sub-News Editor. Along with it, Panday got involved in human rights movement and stood as Media Consultant for Advocacy Forum Nepal in 2011.
“This was the time when I ventured into making a documentary,” recalls Panday, who continued making documentaries ‘Antim Sandesh’, ‘Marera Bachekaharu’, and ‘Bahadur Bahini’ (released in 2013) to name a few.
While ‘Antim Sandesh’, the award-winning documentary at the Kathmandu Human Rights Festival and Kathmandu Short Film Fiesta 2012, which translates to ‘The Last Message’, is about the disappearance of Nepalese in Civil War, ‘Marera Bachekaharu’, which translates to ‘The Resurrected’, is about the tortured people in the Civil War. The portrayal of the dark side of the civil war and sufferings and torture of war-ridden people highlighted his name in the field of documentary making. “As a human rights defender and a filmmaker, I had to let the cat out of the bag, displaying the agony of the crippled people, so that these inhumane acts and the wrong doings do not get repeated,” explains Panday.
While his works received national and international acclaim, Panday started to receive death threats as well. He was an ally neither to the state nor to the rebel group as his documentaries lashed against both the parties. When the rebel group overtook the regime, stronger tremor struck Panday’s life.
Panday, who later worked as News Coordinator at Mountain Television, and produced/hosted investigation based programs, including ‘Mission News’ and ‘News Point’, simultaneously started to generate more social issues through documentaries, while associating with various I/NGOs and diplomatic missions; for instance, documentary on Peace Keeping Mission with Nepal Army in Lebanon.
“Human rights being a major issue, people fear to talk about it. As an activist, filmmaker and a journalist, I had to dare to speak against the inhumanity. I wanted other people to join me in the rightful protest and speak against suppression,” says Panday, who continued advocating about human rights issues even when hosting ‘Nyayik Abhiyan’, a show in News 24, that generated issues on human rights, discussed the law of impunity and injustice, and brought people involved in the war together.
On April 25, 2015, powerful earthquake struck the nation. Realizing that the 1990 earthquake had less pictorial and audio-visual records, Panday, leading his team, ventured into filming the victims, saviors and survivors, and successfully captured heart-wrenching moments, titling it as ‘Bhagyale Bachekaharu’, the documentary that was first screened in July 2015, which received massive national response in no time.
The documentary was later screened at Wisconsin University and City University, New York, US. When global attention to the documentary was realized, Panday, with the help of Josiah Willow Hooper and Sapana Shakya from Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival (KIMFF) Doc Lab, produced an international version of the documentary, and within few months, it bagged the title of ‘Best Documentary’ at various film festivals, including KIMFF, Nepal Panorama Jury Award, NOIDA International Film Festival Delhi, India; NASHIK International Film Festival, India, and Edinburgh Nepali Film Festival, UK, becoming most awarded Nepali documentary of 2015.
The documentary which has been screened at various international film festivals in over 32 different countries, is not only still counting screens but is also continuing its legacy to generating funds for the earthquake victims.
“Bhagyale Bachekaharu is not just my property, but the property of all Nepalese people. This documentary will encourage Nepalese people to rise from the rubble and create something greater,” adds Panday, who donated proceeds from such events to build schools in rural areas and helped earthquake victims to insure their lives.
Panday, who is the founder of Shine Media Pvt. Ltd and Editor-In-Chief of Nepal’s popular online news portal www.dainiknepal.com of the present, continues saying, “People of the future generation can utilize the contents of the documentary for academic and non-academic references, and the government, private and non-private sectors, I/NGOs can refer it for policy and program making”.
Panday, also the Media Consultant of Mega Bank Nepal Limited and Advocacy Forum Nepal, who directed the documentary ‘Foundation for Hope: Year One of Relief, Recovery and Reconstruction in Nepal’ for International Organization for Migration as the organization’s first Nepali director, now vows to continue making more documentaries to leave a lasting impact in the society.
“Bhagyale Bachekaharu is not just my property, but
the property of all Nepalese people. This documentary
will encourage Nepalese people to rise from the
rubble and create something greater.”
- Record-breaking filmmaker of ‘Bhagyale Bachekaharu’, the documentary that bagged the title of ‘Best Documentary’ at various international film festivals within a year, Ganesh Panday is the internationally acclaimed documentary maker who is widely known as the creator of over two dozens of best documentaries.
- Since the dawn of his career, Ganesh Panday, as a daring journalist, has challenged the threats to life coming in his way, and led various media organizations under different leads to bring out the voice of the voiceless, reveal hidden truth and bring impactful transformations.
- Ganesh Panday has fought for the rights of humanity, generated voices through individual and community narratives on local and national issues, and turned adverse situations into opportunities.