THE MAN FROM KATHMANDU, releasing this Friday is story about a wannabe Jihadi, who was born in Kathmandu. The story starts where this titular character Bunty/Faisal is now living in Los Angeles and he comes back to his homeland,to find his father. His maternal grandfather and childhood friend are waiting for him back home, who hope he changes his intolerant attitude one day. What kind of turmoil he gets himself into and whether or not he changes the path of becoming a Jihadi make up the rest of the story. There are several things left unexplained, perhaps we have to wait till the second part comes out.
The movie has ‘okay’ action sequences, can be termed ‘good’ by Nepali movie standards. Anna Sharma, who plays love interest of Bunty, (but he prefers to be called Faisal) emotes well and looks hot. All actors have given convincing performances. Bollywood baddie of yesteryear’s Gulshan Grover, is a star in the movie for Nepali viewers who plays a politician. Rarely do we see movies of such large canvases taking the viewers through the beautiful locales, temples and other architectural marvels of Kathmandu valley. It has been a while movie goers have seen such physical beauty of Kathmandu onscreen.
There are several problems with the movie’s story, sub plots and the belief factor though, and all these fail to connect with the regular Nepali movie goers. Okay, let’s believe that a boy born out of Hindu-Muslim marriage in Kathmandu could wish to turn into a Jihadi. Maybe he suffered extreme racism in the US and that changed him. But would you believe if I tell you a Hindu priest and a Muslim politician is at war with each other to have control over the city of Kathmandu? Or maybe as the makers have voiced, it is a different kind of movie in a different setting. But the movie takes place in Kathmandu, and it is allegedly inspired by true events.
In the movie, Kathmandu is shown in such a state where a police Inspector dares to harass and molest a seemingly educated social worker, that too inside a police station in front of another junior officer. As a matter of fact, Kathmandu is a playground for the US’s war against terrorism, and high profile murders of priests, social workers take place every other day and the police does nothing. The wannabe Jihadi and bodyguard of a politician Kung Fu fight each other with the motive of finishing the opponent, while the bodyguard killed someone with a machine gun just minutes ago. Why didn’t he use it this time?
From Nepali viewers’ perspective, this movie is botched up by a ridiculous setting that is not plausible, perhaps things are lost in translation. Knowingly or not, the makers have tried to change the image of Kathmandu and not in a good way. Even to the foreign viewers, this setting will serve as an element of surprise. The tagline for the title says “NOT A SUPERHERO, A HERO”, but the viewers find no reason to sympathize this hero. The way female lead is shown so head over heels for this ‘hero’ is not believable.
This is an otherwise technically well-made venture, which may seem credible to viewers who don’t know anything about Kathmandu yet. Pema Dhondup can surely make good movies if he is provided with a good script and a believable story. Director Pema has done a good job, but it is a bit of a let down from the story and script writer Pema for penning this absurdity.
Producer: Nakim Uddin, Pema Dhondup Gakyil
Director: Pema Dhondup Gakyil
Cast: Jose Manuel, Anna Sharma, Gulshan Grover, Hameed Sheikh, Karma, Nir Shah, Shishir Bangdel et al.