In the Western town of Gularia, which is also the headquarter of the Bardiya district, a beauty pageant is being held. The event is being organized by a fictitious “Nepal Ekata Party”, a political group which wants the event to bring the mass in their favor. An indigenous local girl, Prabina Chaat wants to win the contest and make it big so she can give a better life for her father and younger brother. A widow of the insurgency era is Ekata Party’s candidate for the upcoming election, whom the party wants to exploit to amass votes in order to win the election. What follows is the story of Sahara Sharma directorial venture “Bardiya Sundari”, which premiered at the Nepal International Film Festival (NIFF) this Sunday.
First of all, kudos to the director for extracting such convincing performances from those non actors and relatively unknown figures. This 95 minutes long venture inspires youths to follow their hearts, educates them about ideas of struggle in real life and enticesto be brave to face the situation regardless of foreseeabletreachery. The titular character’s revelation as a confident, brave and mature person was compelling and she really proves herself to be “Bardiya Sundari” at the end. Most of all, it was a real pleasure to watch a movie in Nepali language in a while which has a female as the lead protagonist.
Thorough and informed writing have sketched the canvass of political propagandas as a backdrop of the story. Smartly, they have used beauty contest as a podium for women empowerment while making its mockery at the same time. Rustic look of the movie adds flavor and enhances realism. Importantly, it is a much more mature piece of movie making than many other run of the mill movies coming out every weekend. It was a pleasure to watch a movie from a female director with her own perspective. We definitely need more of her kind.
A couple of songs could have been avoided, which could yield time to showcase more conversation among characters. The movie is set in a locale which is very different from and unknown to the viewers from Kathmandu, who are the majority in this case. As a viewer, I wanted to have a glimpse atsome slices of their daily lives and I wanted to know more about how they made everyday conversations and how they expressed themselves, say, when someone organized a birthday event for them. It would help me understand their feelings and as a result, bring much closer to the character.
The obvious letdown is the technical aspects of the movie. Dubbing (or real time dialogues) could have been of much better clarity. Cinematography is often rigid and scenes look out of focus at times.The characters might have been instructed to avoid camera consciousness, but they could at least deliver a couple of lines looking at the camera to assist viewers in feeling onscreen connection with them. Viewers will long for a more developed role of the widow character. Despite being one of the major characters, Nanka is frustratingly superficial.
Despite these shortcomings, the movie succeeds in many other levels. It is a feel good tale of an aspiring young girl who can be a role model for her counterparts. Worth a watch.
Producer: Abhimanyu Dixit
Director: Sahara Sharma
Cast: Prabina Dahit, Sharada Sherpali, Sahayog Raj Adhikari, Deepak Ghimire, Deepa Khadka, Abhishek Bista, Narendra Shrestha, Manoj Bhandari, and Neeru Singh Thakuri.