How Movies Are Filmed in Nepal. Part 1

Here in Kathmandu, local cinema is called Kollywood. The cost of one movie, as I was told by a manager who decided to audition for the part of a tour guide, is 10-50 thousand American dollars. In just a few months, a crew of 7-10 people manages to make a ready product. Detective stories with a lot of killing are well-liked. In one year, the studio makes up to about 70 (!) films. I got to visit and participate in the making of the movie “Dasdgunga,” about the to this day mysterious death of Nepalese leaders.

The story is so fishy that the movie did not pass censorship right away and was approved for showing only in January of this year, one year after its making. In short, the plot is based on the death of two representatives of the top of the government of Nepal: Madan Bhandari and Jivraj Ashrit. In the 1993 incident, they died in a car accident. The driver, Amar Lama, somehow survived, but was killed ten years later. The murderer was not identified.

The main part of a detective with a difficult life is played by the star of Nepalese theater and cinema Anup Baral. The director is the round-faced Manoj Pandit with kind eyes. They say he’s also pretty famous.

Meanwhile, we look under the cut at a series of 35 photographs with commentary.

Make-up took over an hour. Mustaches got combed, faces got powdered and after three hours of waiting for lights to be ready, filming began. I included the best picture from this period in the “The Culture of Modern Nepal” series.

An extra playing a guard watches as the workers set the lights.

Meanwhile, a scene was being filmed in the hallway. A driver is being led to be interrogated. The blinding light of a projector hits the characters in their backs.

Most of the first day was spent on setting the lights.

The workers of the studio spent over four hours covering, setting and adjusting do-it-yourself reflectors made from rags, white panels and mirrors.

Speaking of the necessity of a professional set, lighting equipment and super-expensive lenses and cameras. Any available resource is used in Kollywood. The room was whitened in one day, rags, mirrors and ropes were brought from storage. The intensity of the projectors’ light is set using black discs with a hole in the center.

A static stage, the set is ready. We are witnessing an interrogation in the basement of a Nepalese security service.

Before starting to film, the director and the actors discuss the details.

The director accentuates the attention on something of moderate importance.

The equipment, as you can see, isn’t cheap. The camera, no matter what, is rented, and there’s a special person designated to watch it. One films, another controls, the third watches over so that the camera doesn’t get dropped.

The operator seemed like a nervous person, smokes one after another.  There is something in his position that opposes the power of the director.

The detective wearing a hat strictly gazes into the eyes of the suspect. They sit close to each other, so their eyes are a bit crossed. On the chair with an umbrella during the filming sits the suspected Amar Lama and sweats.

The director and operator occasionally check how the light falls on the faces of the actors. Sometimes they asked me to show them what the photographs looked like: sometimes the shadows were too rough, sometimes there was too much light.

The terrifyingly quiet partner of the main character. At some point, judging by the circumstances, they attempted to play bad cop/good cop. It didn’t really work, the suspect laughed a couple of times.

I don’t know why they gave the main character of Asian decent, who doesn’t have very abundant facial hair, a stupid mustache. But a special person adjusted it almost every other set.

The director’s assistant. Anup Baral’s companion at the teaching workshop. A sweet person with pretty decent English.

Outside of the scene, of course, you have to sit quietly and wait for it to end.

The view of the set.

In my search of an interesting angle I climbed to the top level using a rocky ladder. The director is explaining something to Anup.

The director, Manoj Pandit.

The actor playing the main part, Anup Baral.

Dayahang Rai, the actor playing a secondary character, the driver Amar Lama at the interrogation.

It’s normal to smoke in the police station basement, there’s nothing to explain here.

The detective’s assistant repeats the text. He did not have many words. Mainly he goggled his eyes.

The person who controls the operator’s work. As you can tell, he wears the headwear of a brahman and not all work can be done by him.

Working on the key moments with the director.

Since you scrolled through to the end, you will probably be interested in finding out a bit more.

You will recognize some scenes right away. Some of the phrases were repeated so many times during filming that even today, a year and a half later, they seem familiar to me.

The guys and I spent several days with the crew. Pasha (r0ver) ended up with a short but good combined report. In my remaining posts from this series you will see the second day of the filming process and the dungeons of the film studio where development, printing, editing, voicing and everything else without which a movie can’t happen take place.

Part two

Part three

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