The Ridiculous ‘Reecha Sharma vs Chhakka Panja Controversy’ That Should Not Have Happened

This week started on a funny note for the Nepali film industry. Wait, ‘funny’ isn’t exactly the word we’re looking for here, ‘disappointing’ it is. Yes, disappointing, let’s stick to that. So yeah, this week started on an extremely disappointing note.

Kathmandu hosted the Ekadeshma International Short Film Festival 2017 last week. A total number of 99 short films from 43 countries were screened during the 3-day event at QFX Kumari. But wait, we aren’t exactly talking about the films or even the film festival here; but a statement by an actress that seems to have sparked controversy.

On the first day of the festival, a panel discussion on ‘Women in Films’ took place at QFX Kumari. Moderated by Saguna Shah, the discussion had Manisha Koirala, Reecha Sharma, Ramyata Limbu, Sampada Malla and Menuka Rai talking on the subject. Over a week later, a video clip from the discussion is making rounds on social media, starting a controversy.

The video clip has Reecha Sharma answering a question about the portrayal of women in Nepali films. She talks about her experience of watching Chhakka Panja with the film’s team. “During the intermission, I asked Deepa [Niraula] didi, ‘Didi, you’re a female movie director; how can you make a movie like this where a person [Raja, played by Deepak Raj Giri] demands to slap her [Champa, played by Priyanka Karki] every night and only I’ll get married to the woman?”, she recalled. “She then asked me to wait and watch the second half.”

“And then amazingly, I was getting angry at so many points because the audience were fully enjoying it – audience as in men and women. When he says he would slap her, the audience were clapping. Everyone was enjoying and I felt like a fool, not just me, we were few of us”, she further says.

“Me and my friends were like ‘What the hell? What is going on here?’ People were like enjoying fully. Now, if audience are enjoying this, it must be a normal thing. They must be showing something normal [regular], that’s why everybody is enjoying and nobody is saying anything about the movie. Everyone enjoyed at the end; and it went on to become the biggest, biggest blockbuster ever; and followed by Chhakka Panja 2.”

Now, Nepali online media persons, being Nepali online media persons and doing what they always do — sensationalized the entire story and gave it a purely clickbait title “Reecha Sharma says the audience clapping while watching Chhakka Panja 2 are fools”.

Dude, what the heck? Like when exactly did she say it? Like, WHEN EXACTLY??

Anyway, it didn’t end there, of course — that’s why we’re calling it a controversy. The team of Chhakka Panja took offense and were quick enough to write something back to Reecha through a Facebook post, without exactly mentioning who it was directed at, but obviously, it was directed at the ‘Talakjung vs Tulke’ actress.

Deepa Shree Niraula, the director, wrote on a Facebook post, “An actress said the audience who clapped while watching our film are fools. ‘Dear actress, it’s because you’re calling the audience fools, your films never get them’, Get well soon!!” [Translated]

The cast of the film including Deepak Raj Giri, Priyanka Karki, Swastima Khadka, Barsha Raut, Gaurav Pahari, Ayushman DS Joshi, among others, put the same status on their personal Facebook handles.

And we’re speechless. We can’t even believe that this is actually happening.

Anyway, moving ahead — Reecha Sharma, earlier today, took to Facebook to clarify her statement. “Me being an artist, a producer and an audience; I have no right to call the audience fools but I can present my view”, she wrote. “The audience make us and we see them as God. I have never called anyone a fool for watching a particular film.”

Seriously, guys?? Seriously? You would better have someone talk only good stuff about your work and wouldn’t listen to what they have to say about the points that should have been improved? That’s how you take criticism, by talking shit about the person in return? We really can’t even process the fact that this is actually going on right now and how an honest feedback was blown out of proportion.

If the people inside the film fraternity won’t take each other seriously, do you think your audience will? Think about it.

And also, not every hit film is a good film and not every good film does well at the box office. Please don’t be so proud about giving a hit film that you forget what it means to be humble. Be grateful for what you have achieved.

That’s all!


Neeraj Pun (NEO)

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