The curtain has closed on the weeklong National Film Festival after it recognised the work and sacrifices of various cine stars, directors, composers and others, who had worked over the last several decades and who in the process gave the Nepali film industry a sense of direction besides helping it evolve into a professional one. The first of its kind in Nepal, the Festival recognised five outstanding films — Aama, Kumari, Prempinda, Dakshina and Numafung — chosen to best represent each of five decades in respective order since 2022 BS. The organisers of the fest did all they could to honour the vintage actors associated with the Nepali film industry during its infancy. By honouring Dev Anand for his role in Hare Ram Hare Krishna and Mala Sinha in Maitighar — films made when the domestic industry was still struggling to stand on its own — the festival has acknowledged their valuable contributions to the industry, then bogged down by paucity of funds and human resource crunch. The contribution of all others in the industry, of course, is no less precious.
The Nepali film industry has come a long way since its infancy. But it is still well short of the expected leap it ought to have taken in terms of script quality, direction, cinematography, choreography, genre and other aspects. Kollywood has been going through bad times, thanks to the on-going conflict, rifts within the industry and shrinking audience for Hindi remakes and other plagiarised story lines. The film industry is also not free from criticism for having imported western themes into the mainstream, which not surprisingly has failed to attract the audience. That, however, is not to discredit the outstanding attempts which have drawn the attention of some of the big names in the global film industry. Film production in recent years has nose-dived and producers and directors are increasingly being forced to look into new ways to revive the industry to that of the mid-nineties’ level when the film industry enjoyed a sustained spurt of growth in terms of quality as well as quantity. If this can be achieved, the purpose of the National Film Festival will have been ascertained further. But it is creative films that will pull the crowds to the theatres now swamped by western and Bollywood flicks.