9 Years Of ‘Kagbeni’, The Film That Redefined Nepali Cinema

I was watching a film, I don’t remember which one was it, at Shri Krishna cinema hall in Pokhara back in 2006 when I watched a trailer during the interval that impressed me a lot. It was the trailer of ‘Kagbeni’. Not only me but most of the people in the hall were pretty excited that it was a trailer of a Nepali film. I mean, it looked REALLY good. The cinematography, background score, acting skills and the gripping story; it definitely was a film to look forward to.

I went and watched the film in same hall when Kagbeni released in January 11, 2008. And man, did I love it? I did. It was surely not the best film I have ever watched but definitely one of the best Nepali films ever made. Right after the film ended, a thought came into my mind and it was, “Looks like it’s finally time to take Nepali cinema seriously.” Bhusan Dahal had always been my favorite Nepali TV personality and I loved his music videos as well. My level of admiration for him got doubled after watching his silver screen directorial debut.

Talking about the star-cast, it was only Nima Rumba who I knew about before watching the film and he was way better than I had expected him to be in the film. He was the perfect ‘ghost’ I could think of. Before ‘Loot’ or ‘Highway’, this was the very film that turned me a huge fan of Saugat Malla and made me realize we have such brilliant actors in the industry. Deeya Maskey was equally good. She did her part very well.

From the cinematography by Bidur Pandey to the background music by Sharad Gurung, everything about the film was a winner for me. It was the first Nepali digital film. It was probably the first Nepali film to have a proper premiere that was aired live on Kantipur TV. And it had a kickass promotional song done by 1974 AD titled ‘Jivan Kharani Bancha’.

Of course, not everyone who watched the film liked it. There were people who were like, “Ke film ho yesto?” (What kind of film is this?) but I am sure that the makers were definitely had the idea that it’s not going to be a film for everyone.

I had watched a number of films like ‘Kusume Rumal’, ‘Lahure’, ‘Saino’, ‘Darpan Chhaya’ and various Rajesh Hamal and Bhuwan KC films, you know, the ones that most of the Nepalese have watched. But it was only after ‘Kagbeni’, I actually got attracted towards Nepali cinema. Alok Nembang’s ‘Sano Sansar’, Manoj Pandit’s ‘Dasdhunga’, Deepak Rauniyar’s ‘Highway’ and of course, Nischal Basnet’s ‘Loot’ were the ones later that made me believe that Nepali cinema has a future.

It feels amazing to see so many film-makers ready to experiment these days. We still have a loooooong way to go but with the kind of people we have in the industry, I am confident that we will get there someday.

A big thank you to Bhusan Dahal, the director, writer Prashant Rasaily and producers Bhaskar Dhungana, Nakim Uddin and Rajesh Siddhi along with every single team member of Kagbeni for daring to make something that had enormous amount of risks involved but decided to carry on anyway. Cheers!


Neeraj Pun (NEO)

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