Rita Dhital

Kathmandu:

A brave debut by filmmaker Tsering Rhitar Sherpa, ‘Mukundo’ takes up the daring project of exploring the causes, chemistry and consequences of desire in a world of spirits, trance and matas. Inspired by a true incident, ‘Mukundo’ tells the story of Gita (played by Mithila Sharma)

who is widowed at a young age of sixteen when her husband commits suicide due to illness and mental disorder. Everyone blames her for his death and added to her sorrow, she is allegedly possessed by the spirit of her husband. She later transforms into a mata. However, young ex-footballer Dipak (played by Ratan Subedi) catches her fancy. She strikes up a friendship with his wife who is also her patient and the trio see each other often. Saraswati starts feeling that Gita is trying to lure her husband towards herself. She develops an inferiority complex and although Gita warns her not to make her evoke the deity in the evening, persuades her to do so. During the trance, Gita beats her to death.

The story has a very open ending, leaving the audience to think and decide on their own, which is the real strength of the film. At times, silence speaks more powerfully than words. The story neither challenges the common belief of the people that is practised in Nepali society nor does it offer any judgments regarding any matter. The majority of films produced in Nepal are commercial, or, in a few cases, utilising film only as an expedient way of setting forth arguments. Unlike documentary and ethnographic films that are used by the government

and individuals to convey information as argument, ‘Mukundo’ portrays all these issue without being judgmental. The title ‘Mukundo’, the mask, is symbolic in its meaning referring to the mask of desire worn by Gita, a medium of goddess Tripura, who is supposedly unaffected by passion.

The film wants the audience to be critical rather than identifying with the characters. It relies heavily on things out of the ordinary. The director has used authentic location in Patan locality. The film uses no songs, the background is the natural sound of a radio playing or people speaking. Some might find the storyline insufficient that does not, in fact, explain anything. It is expressive, perhaps, of something that can never be explained in a whole. This film should be watched again and again for the sophistication of its construction, the energy of its visual expression and for its sensitive treatment of the women’s psychology.