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Then and Now: The History of Filmmaking in Nepal

 |  Threemm Films Team

Filmmaking in Nepal: Native Filmmakers and outside influence

Nepali cinema, although established not too long ago, has a rich language of its own. A language that contributes immensely towards the country’s cultural development. A language that has the power of changing the way the society functions. 

The diversity of Nepal’s geography and its people is mirrored in the films that are made here. These films most often are shot in the various different dialects present in the country. “Satya Harishchandra” by DB Pariyar happens to be the first Nepali language film produced in Kolkata, India and released on the 14th of September 1951. Aama (Mother), directed by Hira Singh Khatri was the first film produced in Nepal and was released on the 7th of October 1964. The lead actors in this film; namely; Shiva Shankar Manandhar and Bhuwan Chand, are known as the first actors of the Nepalese Film Industry.

Maitighar, released at the end of 1966 was the first film produced under a private Production Company named Sumananjali Films Pvt. Ltd. Despite being a Nepali film, this films marks the involvement and contribution of Indian nationals in the filmmaking landscape of Nepal. 

Royal Nepal Film Corporation was established in 1971 by the government of Nepal. Mann Ko Bandh, premiered in 1973 in Kathmandu, happens to be the first film produced by Royal Nepal Film Corporation. This film was followed by another film titled; Kumari, the first Eastman Colour Nepali film released in the year 1978.

Paral Ko Aago, a film based on a popular short story of the same name written by Guru Prasad Mainali and directed by Pratap Subba was produced in 1978. Despite being a black-and-white film, it gained popularity due to its intricate storyline and melodious music.

The government of Nepal established The Film Development Board (FDB) on the 30th of June 2000 AD with the goal of promoting the Nepali Film Industry and Filmmaking in Nepal at large. “The Board is a liaison to facilitate the conceptualisation, making, distribution and exhibition of Nepali films, within Nepal’s borders. The Board attempts to bridge the gap between film entrepreneurship and government bureaucracy. The Board is a balance between the people at large, the government, and the process of Filmmaking in Nepal.” (Film Development Board)

Over the years Nepal has proved to be a promising destination for Filmmakers. “The Himalayas’ ‘ by Éric Valli, a French director is the most internationally acclaimed film shot in Nepal. This marks the start of foreign filmmakers taking interest in the diverse landscape and the diverse ethnic tribes residing in this beautiful country.

Despite Nepal being an open studio for International Filmmakers and media personnels, it is also important for the government to realise the potential of Local Filmmakers and provide them with appropriate trainings and platforms to pursue and showcase their creativity. The symbiotic relationship between the interest shown by the West to make films in Nepal and the growing need for tourism to flourish here , oftentimes, gives way to exploitation of the local Film Market and Local Filmmakers discouraging and limiting their growth and creative potential.

Nepali Filmmakers are, often times, left feeling alienated and under-valued when it comes to film projects being carried out in their own country by large International Crews. There is little to no law when it comes to representation or lack there of. Aren’t Nepali Filmmakers and locals well within their rights to be able to access stories that are present in abundance in their own homeland?

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