History of Cinema in NEPAL

Historical overview

In 1951, the Nepalese monarch ended the century-old system of rule by hereditary premiers and instituted a cabinet system of government. Reforms in 1990 established a multiparty democracy within the framework of a constitutional monarchy. A Maoist insurgency, launched in 1996, has gained traction and is threatening to bring down the regime. In 2001, the Crown Prince massacred ten members of the royal family, including the king and queen, and then took his own life. In October 2002, the new king dismissed the prime minister and his cabinet for "incompetence" after they dissolved the parliament and were subsequently unable to hold elections because of the ongoing insurgency. The country is now governed by the king and his appointed cabinet, which has negotiated a cease-fire with the Maoist insurgents, until elections can be held at some unspecified future date.

History of cinema from 1896-2000

Cinematic history in Nepal seems to begin with the change of reign from Monarchy to a non-democratic Republic. Films dating before 1950 are mostly bird expeditions or documentaries of mountain climbers all made by foreigners. Just how and when Hindi films became popular also reamins a mystery. In 1951 the first film in Nepali language "Satya Harishchandra" was released, fully made in India. That was followed by 'Ama' (1965), 'Hijo Aja Bholi' (1967) and 'Paribartan' (1970). All were made by Indian producers, directors and technicians. After the establishment of the RNFC in 1972, many steps were taken to improve technical capabilities of film making, including recording, editing, dubbing, processing and printing.

In the seventies and eighties moviegoers could expect to see Nepalese films only every couple of years. The popularity of the Hindi films in Nepal stems from several factors. First of all the films are comparitivley cheap, Bollywood is the most productive film industry in the world. Hardly any language barrier exists, Hindi film do not need subtitles. Most of the Hindi film stars are very popular in Nepal. During the period of 1950 to 1990 the Nepali film industry had no organized infrastructure, making production inefficient.

Hindi stars are not without controversy, which becomes more apparent now the Nepali film industry finally starts rising to its potential. Some Hindi stars consider Nepal a province of India, or at the very least a minor country. The Nepali crowd responded to this with boycotts and protests. Some Hindi stars are being ignored as long as 30 years. Hollywood gave Bollywood its name, now Bollywood gives its name to Kollywood, the Kathmandu film Mecca.

Nepal has movie theatres spread all over the country. Still the market for local films is limited, hardly any Nepali movie has succesfully crossed the borders. Another rather strange feature of nepali cinema is the lack of a documentary producing tradition. Documentary filmmaking in Nepal consist of propaganda newsreels glorifying the autocratic Panchayat regime. These films, which highlighted government "achievements" and idealized the royals, were in cinemas before regular film screenings.

Nepali produced films are copies of the Bollywood success formulas, hardly any funds (or courage) are available for quality pictures. The oscar nominated movie Caravan (Himalaya) was directed and funded by foreigners.

Since 1990 several cinema related organizations were established, the most significant being the Film DevelopmentBoard, an influential government commitee. The board is a direct result of the legislation passed in th Motion picture act amended in 1991. In more recent years, the actors and actresses have established two unions (The Nepal Film Artists National Association (NFANA) and the The National Film Artists Association (NFAA). The producers are organized in the Nepal Film Producers' Association (NFPA) and the directors in the Nepal Cine Directors' Society. Finally the technicians recognized a good example and founded the Nepal Film Technicians' Association.
During the last decade Kollywood became more popular but Hindi films are still occupying most of the silver screens. The Oscar nomination triggered hope for the future. Films like Manju Kumar Shrestha's "Bar Peepal", Ujwal Ghimire's "Jeendagani", Arjun Shrestha and Sambhu Pradhan's "Sorha Barse Jovan" and Tulsi Ghimire's "Darpan Chayan" are some of the upcoming films that might convince the local audience Nepali films are worth watching, a precondition for the future prosperity of the Nepali cinema industry named Kollywood.

Cinema links from NEPAL

Nepal Film Artists National Association The Nepal Film Artists National Association is the only representative organization of professional film artists of Nepal.
Nepal Film Development Board The constitution of the Film Development Board was with the Government's deep interest in development and promotion of motion picture sector in Nepal.
Nepal Online Major portal to the country of Nepal, includes everything
Nepal Research Nepal Research is a website dedicated to Nepal and Himalayan Studies contains a cinema section
Nepali Films American based online sales company of Nepali movies
Phulchoki Cinema Phulchoki Cinema is established for producing and distributing Nepali and Multi languages feature film

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