“The Man from Kathmandu” Movie Review : Technically Well-Made Venture With Absurdities Aplenty

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Rupak Risal
Rating: 2/5

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.

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2 Comments

  1. Your opinion is appreciated but disagreeable. Fiction and reality are two different things for your information. The story begins with caption ‘inspired by’ a phenomenon, not a city. Police harassment and police not doing anything or gunning down someone but not gunning down someone else are ridiculous arguements in an otherwise appreciation of the film’s attempt to showcase a beautiful city.
    Not being able to sympathize with the protagonist is fair because he is an anti-hero, and Robert De Niro as Travis and NYC seen as a dirt town was hard for many too to accept at that time when Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Diver was released. I don’t mean to compare myself or this film to that classic other than our protagonists being irregular. However, reality of Kathmandu or NYC has nothing to do with both movies. Plausibility is not reason for forming opinion by a critic. It should be whether the world of the story is believable. So, if characters behave in a certain way then we should be convinced about it. If that didn’t happened for you then your opinion is justified. As such, if two ambitious guys that happen to be a Muslim And Hindu are attempting to rule Kathmandu, I don’t see why that’s not believable. And, if a person gets involved in their dirty battle because of personal loss, what’s so confusing.
    This is not Die hard and if you degrade the action as ‘okay’ is fine but don’t degrade Nepalese cinema with a snobbish attitude of “standard”. What is that standard? Maybe Nepalese filmmakers can try to live up to that standard when they embark on creating film in the resources they have.
    In conclusion, my friend, I appreciate the work you do and of all critics in general because they guide viewers but more so they can help filmmakers become better next time. But, bad opinions without true context and depth of understanding cinema only destroys hard work.
    Best
    Pema

    • First of all, let me start by saying that my movie reviews are no way attempts to ignore the hard work and investment made in the field of Nepali cinema. Hence in this case as well, I only meant to express my views with respect to other Nepali cinemas for Nepali movie goers.

      I am not writing this movie review in an ideal world to critically analyze a work of art. If so, I would have started the review by asking why there are no back story given about the Muslim politician and the Hindu priest for audience to understand about their enmity. I would also ask why the ‘hero’ is shown so intolerant and beating people to pulp for an incident which could have been gracefully avoided. Are the viewers just supposed to stay mum without using the logics and go on watching whatever the movie is catering?

      But you and I both know that TMFK is a popular cinema. Hence I have to review this movie not only as a critic but also as an audience as well. I have to be responsible for Nepali audience by giving my honest review about how THEY will feel when they watch this movie, to the best of my knowledge. I would also have questioned the plausibility in similar fashion if a movie had a story about a girl from Kalikot who ends up being the head of NASA and lands on the moon one day, if convincing back story is not provided.

      This is not to brag about my education, but I also studied Film Analysis in the US and graduated from an American university. I have my own experience to share about the discrimination I faced for having a brown face while I was there. Despite being born a Hindu, I was mistaken for a Muslim and discriminated on multiple occasions. Hence I could relate to the titular character, but if you don’t give the back story about him, how can Nepali viewers sympathize with him? And how can they root for your ‘hero’ or ‘anti-hero’ as you want to call him?

      As an avid movie lover and a well-wisher of Nepali cinema, I have highlighted everything good about this movie in my review. But I have to stress again that you have beautifully captured the physicality of Kathmandu but not the soul. Regardless of how fictitious you claim your story to be, it has to take place in a plausible locale. You have to adjust your movie’s storyline to the location where you claim it is based on. Otherwise you might as well have a Tharu from the Terai region as a high altitude rescue worker in the Everest region in your next movie, who saves snow leopards from falling off of the precipices. No fiction can detach itself absolutely from the real world.

      I gather you don’t watch many Nepali movies, otherwise you would have been familiar with standard of action choreography in Nepali cinema. Documentaries can be made to showcase the beauty of a city. But when you make a make a movie about a man from Kathmandu, you have to justify the story with that place.

      From the man of your caliber, Nepali movie lovers definitely expect a much better product the next time. For TMFK, I stand by my rating.

      All the best.

      Rupak.

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