“The Man From Kathmandu” Teach Us Religious Harmony; Says Director Pema Dhondup : INTERVIEW

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The movie ‘The Man From Kathmandu’ is set to release on 15th March across Nepal. This is the second feature movie for director Pema Dhondup, who born in Jomsom and hails from California, US. Talking with MM, director Dhondup shown his excitement regarding his first Nepali venture. Here’s how he build-up the structure of the movie and how he team-up with Nepali friend Nakim Uddin. It’s all about quite interesting to know. Director Dhondup sits with the Editor-In-Chief of MM Bishnu Sharma. EXCERPTS :

Tell us about the noble and risk factors of the movie?
It’s a different movie because; Nepal is very used to watching and making Bollywood films. This is more like independent Hollywood film. The story structure, visual and narrative are different. When you see the film in America or Europe, it’s not different. But, for them, American audience sees exotic Kathmandu. They never saw Kathmandu and Nepal like that. Differences also makes risky. People may or may not feel that, it is the normal film they watch. I’m confident that they would like it.

Can we say that, have you tried to mixture the taste between Hollywood and Nepali in The Man From Kathmandu ?
The idea and passion for the film between me and Nakim Uddin was to make something we can also sell outside the country. Just Nepal box office is very small. So, to expand outside Nepal, we need content oriented film which people can watch outside of Nepal. This is an action drama, certain very topical subject and around the world anybody can watch it. So, that is what we are trying and that is a first attempt in Nepal, I guess.

In the context of Indo-Pak tension and Middle East crisis, how are you portraying an issue of terrorism in the movie?
I think the main core relation of the movie is understanding the human nature. Nobody is born terrorist; nobody is not different from me. It’s our perceptive, how we look at things. That is the story of TMFK. He is a Hindu-Muslim boy and he looks things very differently because his experience is different in America. But when he comes here, he sees such a nice culture and tradition. What he saw and experience have there, he doesn’t have there. So, changes are journey of minded thinking.

People are fighting over many understood historical or even religious elements, the story is saying, NO, step Back, look at it different eye, you will see a different light, that is the thing.

Tell me about concept of the TMFK ? How you build-up the story ?
I came to Kathmandu to meet Nakim and to see what I can do here. I saw a news article where young western kids, very educated kid, they were travelling to Syria to fight the war. I was really surprised that how can well educated western kids go to war that they don’t even understand. That was really fascinated me and I started to thinking of way to comment. We cannot change it. There is no solution. 20 thousand kids went. Each 20 thousand has a different story. Why this story was born? When I said this story can I told. In a way differently, how one a person can be changed. That’s how we came up.

For you, what does matter, money or art?
We are very passionate about the film. We put in money and we brought lot of people, who want to work with this movie. So, obviously this is our passion and artistic goal to make a film that is meaningful. Just paid everybody, hence film can be different. Nepal cannot afford it. Nepal film budget is 150 and 200 thousand. This film is $200 million and never make money from here. Of course, whatever money we put in we somehow we have to get it back. But other than that it is a passion.

In recent years, Nepalese movies are getting setback at Box-Office business. What might be the cause?
You cannot say, there’s a one factor, there can be many factors. But, every country that makes films, at some point has gone through very dramatic change. Nepal is making film in a certain manner because neighboring influence. More and more films come up and see world cinema. When they see world cinema, then they realize, OH! we can also tell that kind of story and that story will work. We cannot say ‘Eh Kharab Hai, tab picture nahi chal raha hai’, one things is very universal, every film industry in the world is content. What is the story, people can relate you. In Nepal, content is good but maybe there is no good marketing and theatres. Content is most important thing everywhere, even in Hollywood. They make $200 Million film, it can go down. Content is king always.

Why audience need to watch TMFK ?
I think there is two factors, one; is just pure cinematic experience. I hope they will see the content. Content is different. It is not the different for Nepal, different for west also. Nobody has made the film about a Muslim boy travel to middle-east; one film is British film, about a girl. This is may be the second film. There is only one dialogue: Terrorism! There’s not even a dialogue. So, Nepali audience go and watch.

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