In late 2013, Dhoom 3 was released in movie theaters worldwide and it created a huge storm especially in Nepal. On January 4th, 2014, Kantipur headline news reported that Dhoom 3 was going to affect the release of Nepali movies for three weeks!!! The release of Nepali movies was halted and Dhoom 3 smoothly earned around 6 crores in two weeks just from Nepal with almost no competition.
The Kantipur article estimated that close to 110 Nepali movies were going to be released by the end of the year. An estimated budget to make a Nepali movie is 30 to 40 lakhs and by Poush only two movies had managed to break even in theatres. Last year I mostly watched Hollywood and Bollywood films in theatres. The last Nepali movie that I watched in a theatre was more than a year ago which was “Loot” directed by Nischal Basnet. Although, I do admit that I gravitate towards Hollywood movies, Loot definitely caught my attention before it arrived in movie theatres and I was looking forward to seeing it in a theatre. I also had a chance to hear Nischal share his film experience and Loot’s success at the Entrepreneur for Nepal’s Last Thursdays event.
I appreciate quality Nepali films. I do want to support the movies being made in our country by the hardworking people in our film industry. But, at the same time with a limited budget and especially limited time, myself and so many people will ultimately look at the opportunity cost when we visit a movie theatre. Without a fresh storyline, good reviews and advance publicity, I mostly likely will not watch a movie in the theatre. Having recently watched two good Nepali movies titled Mokshya and Jhola at Nepal Bharat Library, I was invigorated with the direction of the Nepali film industry.
There is no simple explanation as to why many Nepalese and especially the youth do not watch Nepali films in theatres. In an issue of Living magazine, Alok Nembang stated that “Nepali films fail because people laugh when you say that you watched a Nepali movie. Today’s generation watches a Nepali movie just to make fun of it, but they don’t realize the effort that has gone into making it. Nepali film is being bullied by the audience itself.” It’s a complex matter and one which cannot be explained with a short survey or brief explanation. As a moviegoer, I would like to share my thoughts and experiences on Nepali films and hopefully the movie producers and film investors can turn this feedback into positive actions.
Nepali films face great competition. The challenges lie in the competition from Hollywood and Bollywood films, their excessive promotion and advertising, extravagant film award ceremonies, vast level of talent and their storylines among others. However, I believe these challenges can be managed and Nepali films can have their unique identity and success in Nepal and abroad. First and foremost, the most important job for the producer and director should be to make a movie with very good substance. Directors, producers, actors and actresses should really focus on that. There is nothing more important than making a movie that everyone involved with it are proud of. Once a quality movie has been made, then it’s all about marketing.
When a movie has been made, it is important to let the target audience know of the movie, way in advance. The trailer should be a teaser and be able to draw people into the theatres. One problem I see with many Nepali films is that I do not even see a trailer or poster until the movie is already in theatres. Then it’s already too late because I need to manage my time and collect information on the movie, and find out what theatres the movie is playing in etc. Thus it is super critical to release the first trailer of the movie at least 4-6 months in advance. Hollywood movies do an excellent job of doing this right. Nowadays movie makers anywhere have plenty of free avenues to promote the movie. This can be done through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc. This is even more important for Nepali films as they are generally only in theatres for 1-2 weeks unless they do very well and sometimes less if there is a Bollywood behemoth like Dhoom 3.
Jhola, a recent local runaway success used a clever approach in reaching the wider audience. They held an exclusive screening of the movie at Kumari Hall and invited leading media personalities and celebrities. People saw it, liked it and started writing reviews. In restaurants around Kathmandu, one was able to collect pamphlets of Jhola with a film review by Narayan Wagle. This created a buzz amongst the public who now wanted to see Jhola and find out what all the hype was about. Other movies can definitely learn a lot from Jhola and I commend the efforts of the whole team behind that movie.
Most Nepali movies follow a conventional method of promotion. The movie is made, then posters are adorned all around town, the movie is played in theatres and then it’s done. There is definitely an urgency to use unconventional promotional methods to promote a new release. For example “Cha Ekan Cha” hired a few people and put them in red suits at Ratna Park and City Centre to draw attention and they were giving out information on the movie. It is difficult to measure how effective this strategy was to bring viewers to theatres to watch “Cha Ekan Cha” but the effort is creditable. Narayan Puri, director of over twenty four Nepali movies suggests that Nepalese embassies abroad should organize film festivals. This effort can expose the Nepali films to a wider audience and help grab an international market. The recently held 5th Toronto Nepali Film Festival (TNFF) is a very good example of taking Nepali films to the diaspora and international audience.
Nepali moviegoers really support good movies for their fresh approach, talented actors and actresses, dialogues, youth centric stories, edgy promotion among others as we can see from the success of movies such as Mokshya, Jhola, Hostel, Kali, Chadke and Loot. The talent in the film industry is growing and the future looks promising if the film industry evolves with the changing behaviors and tastes of the moviegoers.
Nepali films will definitely see a throng of movie goers when a quality movie has been made. The film industry should focus on releasing quality films rather the quantity of films. The audience’s expectations have definitely increased because they are now exposed to Bollywood and Hollywood movies more than ever. Thus it is vital that Nepali movie producers, directors and other stakeholders really focus on making movies with essence. Only then can we alleviate some of the negative perceptions about Nepali movies and eventually start to see a thriving film industry.
Image source: Dreams Magazine