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History of Nepali movies
« on: April 20, 2015, 07:08:34 AM »
The filmdom of Nepal
The Lux Film Awards on Saturday may be just the affirmation Kollywood needs to show that it is in a new phase of creativity and originality.


FROM ISSUE #172 (28 NOV 2003 - 04 DEC 2003)  Nepali Times

When Nepali films started being made in the 1960s, the state tried to use the medium of movies to support Nepali nationhood, unity and to bolster government programs. The job of the Panchayat government's Ministry of Information's was to popularise and strengthen the partyless polity and making Nepali films was conceived as one of the most effective ways to do it. So at the request of King Mahendra, Bollywood filmmaker Hira Singh Khatri came to Nepal and started work with the Department of Publicity Film Division and, for the first time, Nepalis saw a film made in their own country, Aama. "It was a great thrill to see a film with a Nepali story, Nepali actors and in our own language for the first time," recalls actor Gautam Ratna Tuladhar.

Nepalis craved for more films, but production was slow. It took the ministry and director Khatri another three years to produce a second film. Then came Paribartan, based on a drama by Janardhan Sama to popularise the Back to Village Campaign. Finally, it was with the production of Maiti Ghar that the development of Kollywood began.

But it has been a long, hard struggle. It took almost another 15 years to attract investment from the private sector to make Juni, produced by Sujata Films and directed by Jharendra Shamsher Rana.

The government's Royal Nepal Film Corporation made movies at an average of one every three years. Yet they played to capacity crowds. It was only in the mid-80s that Nepali filmmakers like Tulsi Ghimire, Shambhu Pradhan and Uddhab Paudyal finally started the Kollywood trend. Ashok Sharma also moved from acting to producing and directing. One of the leading directors of today, Yadab Kharel, also entered the scene along with stalwarts like Prakash Thapa, BS Thapa, Laxmi Nath Sharma and Prem Basnet.

By 1999 Kollywood was putting out more than 20 films annually and Nepali filmmakers were making history. Those who went into debt no longer worried because films now guaranteed a return on their investment. Cinema became not only a breadwinner but also a platform for recognition and fame. There was a time when actors worked for a month and were jobless the rest of the year. They were now so busy that they had difficulties giving dates for new projects. Even before one film was finished, they signed another.

Kollywood made great strides technically, too. Filmmakers no longer had to go to India for recording, editing, processing and final production. Production gradually started taking the shape of an industry and also provided opportunities and created more jobs. Better studios meant songs were recorded in Nepal. Companies like Prime and Cinematrix that saw potential in processing, dubbing and editing made huge investments that paid off.
Filmmakers like Tulsi Ghimire, Shambu Pradhan and Kishor Rana, who concentrated on Bollywood, turned their eyes homewards and made Kathmandu their work base. The Royal Nepal Film Corporation was privatised into the Nepal Film Development Corporation and by 2000, 32 films were being produced every year. In 2001, that figure was 52.

Despite eight years of violence, killings and terror, film production has not ebbed. In fact, the number of films is growing. It seems escapism has its own market momentum. There are, however, challenges in expanding to the international audience. While films like Prem Pinda and Caravan earned a reputation outside Nepal, very few films meet international standards. "I couldn't afford it anymore. Our government's fiscal policies have to change," says Neer Shah, who believes that the government's anti-economic concept is a huge obstacle in the way of high budget quality films. And then, owners of movie theatres that are not certified deluxe are not allowed to decide ticket prices.

"How can you get returns by selling tickets for just Rs 28?" asks Shah. When his film was shown at the old Jai Nepal cinema, he was not allowed to increase the price of the ticket. "There are people willing to pay more for a quality product," adds Shah. His revenues from ticket sales came to around Rs 3 million, not even breaking even with the Rs 3.2 million invested in the film.

The financial side of the industry might frustrate Shah, but he is hopeful about a bright future for Kollywood. "Our film directors and producers have become more quality conscious and that is a positive symptom," he says.
Producers can no longer afford to act hastily and put out just any film. They should evolve from the stereotypical subjects of ill-fated love, macho heroes duelling evil villains, erotic 'item' dances and stale comedy routines.

here is room for growth and the audience is tired of the same old themes. "There is strong need to give a new direction to Nepali cinema. We can no longer identify with a hero dying of tuberculosis and there is little use of a director who looks at life in such a unimaginative manner," explains Dipak Neupane, an avid Kollywood fan.

Veteran actor Rabi Giri believes people and social perspectives change according to time and should be reflected in the movies. "If in one scene, there is a boy who dumps his girl after sex, the next scene will have her trying to commit suicide by throwing herself in the river or hanging herself. Should we be teaching today's generation that the loss of virginity is the loss of dignity? Should we be telling them that the only answer is to end one's life? Can't a girl go ahead with her life after that?" he asks. It is necessary to abandon the four-decade-old conservative mentality of script writers, directors and producers if Nepali films are to bloom.

It's not as if Kollywood has never displayed originality and innovation: just look at the work of directors Chiring Ritar, Navin Subba and Ravi Baral. It is possible for Nepali cinema to take on a new lustre with a new breed of bright and talented actors, technicians and producers. Today's filmmakers are already more critical of their products than in the past. Recognising mistakes and identifying room for improvement are the first steps to creating a better film. Efforts at breaking the mould, putting out a film worthy of the Nepali audience, should be recognised and applauded.

The first ever Lux Film Awards 2060 is just the kind of affirmation and support that Kollywood needs. It accords a kind of respect and sense of dignity that originates from the audience to all the artistes who make Kollywood what it is. "This kind of event is a real inspiration to us all," says actress Jal Shah. On Saturday, 29 November, when the cr?me-de-la-cr?me of Kollywood walk the red carpet to the awards, our stars will have the chance to shine just a little bit brighter in the future.

Viplob Pratik is a poet and film critic.


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Re: History of Nepali movies
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2015, 07:10:59 AM »
 Nepali Film Industry - Past and Present

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).

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 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), directed by Hira Singh Khatri and the lead actors were Shiva Shankar Manandhar and Bhuwan Thapa, 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, 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 had the lead role, along with C P Lohani. 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 them established Indian singers, doing the playback-singing along with the household names of Nepali music, like Narayan Gopal, Prem Dhoj Pradhan, C P Lohani, and Aruna Lama.
Then the 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 series. The success of these films opened up avenue for private parties to enter into filmmaking as industrial endeavor.
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. Some popular films such as Samjhana, Lahure, Basudev, Saino, Koseli and Kusume Rumal were released between 1984 and 1993. 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.
After the restoration of the Democracy in 1990, the film industry began to grow rapidly. The number of productions increased. 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 downfall of the Nepali film industry was the result of the Maoist revolution. In the era of war and conflict, fewer films were made with low budget and even lower performance, which resulted in even smaller audiences. In the later years of the conflict, the production and release of Nepali films had come to a standstill with many actors and filmmakers leaving the country in search of work because there were no films being made.
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.
Later the Film Development Board (FDB) was established by the Government of Nepal according to the existed Motion Picture Act amended on 20th November 1991.

Present Situation:

By 2006, with Maoists coming into mainstream politics, the Nepali film industry started to develop. Now, more and more films are being made and released. The production companies and those in the industry are enthusiastic about the country's new situation. Also the quality of the films being produced is improving, however, in comparison to Bollywood, it still lags far behind and the competition is tuff with maximum youths preferring Bollywood and Hollywood to Kollyhood.

Also, most of the Nepali films of new generation have the same storyline that was used in Bollyhood during 1990s and 2000. Actresses are either shown glamorous or a simple village girl. Such story still prevails in mainstream Nepali movies. We could see the movie posters pasted on the wall of the streets where the heroines are either in shorts or are crying their eyes out. Although few new generation directors are trying to display a different storyline and give a new look to the film industry, the maximum audience of the Nepali Film industry are those who prefer the traditional pattern and relate themselves to the movies that shows simple village life. That is why the directors often hesitate to take risk making movies with different taste and storyline.
New generation movie makers however, are 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.
Thus, the Nepali cinema still has not been able to come far away from where it started, in terms of the storyline. However, keeping in mind the interest and choices of younger crowds and to attract their attention and interest towards the industry some new generation directors have been experimenting with the story of the movie. And, also the involvement of the skilled and professional actors, directors and the crew in the film has resulted in the improvement in the quality and the story of the films. We could say that, at present, the Nepali Cinema is catering to both kinds of its audience - old and new.

- Kiran Giri


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Re: History of Nepali movies
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2015, 07:15:05 AM »
Kollywood: The Films of Nepal

Nepali cinema, whilst not as established as Indian cinema, is hugely influenced by Bollywood so that Nepali films often use Bollywood-style songs and narrative. This has earned the Nepali film industry the name Kollywood, after the capital and centre of the Nepali-language film industry: Kathmandu.

Nepal’s Kollywood film industry (confusingly India’s Tamil-language film industry, based in Chennai, is also often called Kollywood) is relatively undeveloped and relies heavily on talent and resources from Bollywood. The first known film to be made in the Nepali language was DB Pariyar’s Satya Harishchandra in 1951. However it was produced in India and released in Calcutta. Nonetheless the Nepali film industry has produced several films over the last 50 years, many of which cast a critical eye on the upheavals which have beset the country over the last few decades and which offer an insightful glimpse into the culture of this remote Himalayan country. We look at the four directors whose work has defined Nepali cinema.

Hira Singh Khatri

Following the production and release of Harishchandra in Calcutta in 1951, Aama (Mother) was the first film to be created solely in Nepal and premiered in Kathmandu in October 1964. The film was intended to subtly promote the government and the system of monarchy; thus King Mahendra requested that Hira Singh Khatri, a prominent Bollywood filmmaker, direct the film. However, due to the fact that there was no film industry in Nepal prior to this film, the leading roles were taken by popular singers rather than professional actors. Nevertheless, Aama was the beginning of the Nepali film industry and was very successful.

The film is concerned with a young Nepalese man who returns home after fighting in a foreign army for a couple of years to earn money for his poor, widowed mother. Unfortunately she dies before he is able to see her. The film focuses on the loss of Nepalese people to other countries and its consequences on the country and the families left behind. The film emphasised the importance of looking after the motherland which is depicted to be as important as looking after a mother.

Tulsi Ghimire

In the mid-80s Nepali filmmakers like Tulsi Ghimire, started the Kollywood trend. Ghimire is one of the most renowned and prolific directors of the Nepali film industry. He was born in Kalimpong in India, but moved to Mumbai in 1974 to work in the Hindi film industry. His mentor, Bollywood editor Kamlakar Karkhanis, told Ghimire that he should make ten films in his own Nepalese language. He has since been involved in more than 21 Nepali films.

His most successful film is Chino (1991), which is also one of the most successful films in Nepalese history and still holds the record for the length of time it was shown in the cinema. This film, with its action, romance and drama, emulated and celebrated Bollywood cinema. His other highly popular Bollywood inspired film, Darpan Chhaya (Reflection) released in 2001, surpassed Tulsi Ghimire's own earlier 1987 classic Kusume Rumal to become the highest grossing Nepali film of all time.

Tulsi Ghimire’s other films mostly focus on the political issues facing Nepal. His 1989 film Lahure (Soldier), centres on the Gurkha soldiers and the sacrifices made by them and their families. The film Balidaan (Sacrifice), released in 1996, with its depiction of Nepal’s Communist movement, was banned in 2005 when King Gyanendra, together with the army, imprisoned Nepal’s most influential politicians and took over power. Ghimire’s 2010 film Desh (Nation), is concerned with Nepal’s increasingly secular republic and the social uncertainty which has led many to move abroad.

Neer Bikram Shah

Neer Bikram Shah, or Nir Shah, is related to the Royal family of Nepal and is an actor, director, businessman, lyricist and poet. One of his most recognised films is Basudev (1984), which is considered to be one of the best examples of realistic Nepali cinema and marked a turning point towards film that raised awareness of social issues. The film shows how a principled man, Harihar Sharma, has a difficult and tragic life, unlike his less than honourable friend, due to living in a society in which corruption is endemic.

In 2002 Shah was celebrated by the Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation in recognition of his contribution in the ‘promotion of Nepalese art and culture and tourism industry’. Neer is also the founder of the first television channel in Nepal and has a major company which licenses Nepali productions abroad. As such he is one of the most powerful media figures in Nepal.

Tsering Rhitar Sherpa

Tsering Rhitar Sherpa is one of the most unique Nepali film directors as he prefers to produce films which offer a more personal perspective and which contrast with the previous, more commercial Nepalese films. His first feature film Mukundo (Mask of Desire) was released in 2000 and was the first independent Nepali film to gain international recognition.

Mask of Desire provides a bewildering and fascinating insight into the otherwise unknown world of Nepali superstition and psychology. The story, which was reportedly inspired by a true incident, follows the burly and well-meaning night watchman Dipak who lives happily with his wife, Saraswati, and two daughters. Unbeknownst to him, his wife is agonising over her inability to produce a baby boy. However, when that longed for baby arrives, he gets ill and dies. As a result Saraswati believes she must have upset the gods and so goes to see Gita, a beautiful widowed spiritual healer, despite Dipak’s reluctance. This crisis of faith brings about a dizzying climax, leaving the lines between secular and spiritual desires eerily blurred. His latest film Karma (2006) again evokes themes of spirituality and materialism and questions how the line between them can become blurred in modern day Nepal.

By Anya Kordecki