Nepali Movies:Moving Beyond Bollywood

Although Nepali culture and diversity offers rich tradition of stories with strong narratives and characters; Nepali movie industry has failed to realize the value of this potential gold mine.

The Nyetamaru Ajima Pyakhan masked dance is performed by the Newars-the indigenous people Kathmandu, at Nyeta. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Looking back at novels of Laxmi Prasad Devkota, Diamond Shumsher and even contemporary writers like Manjushree Thapa, Samrat Upadhaya, Narayan Wagle-you can feel Nepali culture’s strong oral history traditions and also our vibrant social life.

It is unfortunate that Nepali movie industry has not been able to tap this resource and instead relies on churning out half-baked Bollywood copies. Very few meaningful movies are made in Kathmandu. The last one I found worthwhile was Numafung.

The Indigenous Film Archive (IFA) is thus a welcome effort. Their motivation is  “…supporting indigenous peoples and nationalities to conserve and promote their cultures, languages, religions, customs, traditions and wisdom. “

In 2007, IFA organized first Nepal International Indigenous Film Festival. You can view the archives for entries and list of award winners. This year’s festival saw Inuktitut language movie from Canada win the first prize.

What IFA and the film festival do is, they nurture Nepal’s rich indigenous heritage and story telling. By bringing in international movies and artists into Nepal and creating a venue where Nepali indigenous artists can interact and share with the world; IFA is basically strengthening Nepali movie industry and culture.

This is a welcome step and must be supported and applauded.

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