Chhaproma: Tragic trilogy of broken homes woven together
With Nepali commercial feature films garnering positive feedback and loyal audiences even in urban areas, young Nepali filmmakers seem encouraged by the newfound appreciation of Nepali films. Post the success of “Loot” and positive feedback on other films like “Sick City,” “Lalteen,” and “Soongava,” the trends of Nepali films are definitely on the rise.
Amidst the commercial releases, three independent filmmakers with their production house Chhaproma Studio has come out with their first feature film named after the production house. Chhaproma (The Hut) is the first feature film venture of directors Khitiz Shrestha, Rajan Kathet and Shail Shrestha, graduates of Media Studies from Kathmandu University.
Chhaproma is a 68-minute feature-length film with three chapters that portray different stories. The content however revolves around the conflict of the lead characters with the society and within themselves. The film depicts the immediate effects of the decade-long insurgency as well as its long-term consequence on people of different gender, age and background.
The first chapter “Ma Janna” (I won’t go) strongly establishes the theme of the whole film, which is about the conflict between an individual’s desires and social obligations resulting in broken relationships. Laxmi and Balaram/Bale come to Kathmandu to escape the horror of war but their lives are falling apart as both are unaware of each other’s pains.
The second chapter is titled “Nagarjuna” after the famous hilltop north of Kathmandu. The story is about Ram, a man in his early twenties, who has left his affluent family home, his friends and a girlfriend and has been living in the streets.
The last chapter is titled “Shukrakit” (sperm). It’s about a newlywed couple whose marriage is falling apart due to the husband’s illegitimate affair with his boss.
While the screenplays of the first two chapters are very strong, the third chapter misses the mark. Though the scenes are well written throughout the chapter, the end part is confusing.
The cast is the strongest point in the film. With the ensemble of veteran theatre actors to debutants, the directors have succeeded in making them so real that one might even relate to someone they know from experience.
Sarita Giri, who plays the character of Laxmi in the first chapter, outshines all the other actors by her smooth character execution. Laxmi is constantly stitching clothes like she’s been stitching her life to make it bigger and better. But the constant prick from the needle is taking its toll on her as well as on her husband.
Giri has breathed life into the character as a distraught wife working hard to maintain a decent life in the city. Her dialogue delivery and expressions are flawless.
Other actors also seem comfortable and natural in their roles. The directors should be accredited for keeping their characters real but with enough drama to make the all the eyes glued to the screen.
The dialogues are beautifully written which is mainly based on the contemporary conversational style. Unlike most Nepali films, the dialogues don’t sound too fake or awkward. The lines flow smoothly like overhearing people having normal conversation.
The background score is soothing and subtle. The audio recording and editing also deserves applause. The background music isn’t loud, yet not negligible. It complements the scenes very well and at times cleverly threads two different scenes together.
Traditional gender role reversal is one of the highlights in the film. While women are shown to be the ones with control and power, men are the ones who need assurance and are looking for easy ways to escape their sufferings. Though women are shown to be equally affected by the situation, they are depicted as more reasonable and stronger than their male counterparts.
Chhaproma is set in a realistic setting. Though there are scenes of regret and hopelessness, the end can be defined in many ways; it can be a hope or a tragedy, depending on the audience’s perspective. The characters, however, are looking for a life that suits them and almost all the lead characters find their way away from city.
The main unique selling point of the stories is the realistic approach to it and an open ending for the audiences to contemplate on later. The movie plays with frustrations and philosophies and reflects on relationships. This might not be an ideal watch for people who look for the entertainment factor in the movies but even for the lovers of Masala genre, the movie is worth a watch.
The film is screened every Saturday at different locations. The first and second screening took place at Martin Chautari and Mandala Theatre respectively. You can follow the film’s Facebook link: facebook.com/chhaproma for the screening details.