Home Art/Culture Nepal’s India-trained director bridges divide with his art

Nepal’s India-trained director bridges divide with his art

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : Seven years after he made his last film in Nepal, the lone Indian director here is poised to make a comeback with his new movie exploring the psyche of Nepalis and people of Nepali origin scattered all over the world.

The Nepali film industry’s once-acclaimed director Tulsi Ghimire, who began his career as a spot boy in India’s Bollywood to learn the craft of filmmaking from scratch, has returned to Nepal with a romance, “Maya to maya ho” (Love is love), which released in Nepal last week.

He also has a children’s film, “Swarg ko pari” (Angel from heaven) that will premiere in Sikkimese capital Gangtok Tuesday, and what he calls his tour de force, “Desh” (Motherland), which is in the queue for Kathmandu’s cinema halls.

The 59-year-old, who left his village Sindibong in Kalimpong in India’s West Bengal to make his mark in the Hindi film industry, was instead directed to the Nepali film industry by his mentor, Bollywood editor Kamlakar Karkhanis. Karkhanis told him since he was of Nepali origin, he should make 10 films in his own mother tongue first to promote it.

When Ghimire looked at the nascent film industry in Nepal, he was immediately drawn by the promotional effort of the government with a 50 percent tax waiver offer. While his first film in 1981 “Basuri” (The flute) received middling response, the second one four years later, “Kusume Rumal” (The silk kerchief), was a hit, prompting a sequel by a different filmmaker last year.

The 21 Nepali films under his belt include other hits that made his reputation – “Lahure” (Migrant), “Darpan Chhaya” (Reflection), “Dakshina” (Teacher’s debt discharged) and “Balidan” (Sacrifice).

“Balidan” portrayed the Communist movement of Nepal and was banned five years ago when King Gyanendra seized absolute power with the help of the army and jailed Nepal’s top politicians.

After a love story – “Dui Kinara” (The two banks of the river) – that bombed on its release in 2007, Ghimire is now back exploring the dichotomy of Nepalis and people of Nepali origin.

“How do they view the turbulence in Nepal?” says Ghimire. “Do they understand the complicated politics? What makes thousands of young people leave their country for greener pastures abroad? Then who is this country for?

“These are the thoughts that had been haunting me and I have tried to project them in ‘Desh’.”

“Desh” also focuses on Nepal-India relations, especially through the valiant Gorkha soldiers of Nepal who battle for India’s security in the Indian Army.

“A close link between India and Nepal has been forged by the respect India has for the Gorkha soldiers,” Ghimire told IANS, “the respect that India gives to its Gorkha martyrs.”

Nepal’s political turbulence has seen its major parties blow hot and cold towards India. But Ghimire says varying government relations never affected him.

“Nepal’s governments have always encouraged my work,” he says. “Besides, as a filmmaker, I am neutral. When I think India is to be blamed I say that and when I feel Nepal is at fault, I say that too.”

With a growing number of technicians and actors from India, especially Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sikkim making their way to Nepal’s film industry, drawn by the common language and culture, Ghimire says the message is very simple for artistes.

“Art stays above politics,” he says. “Politics divides people but art should bring them together.”

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at [email protected])