Director Naresh Kumar KC’s debut feature Dying Candle is an intimate survey of the social hierarchy and the struggles of a family in rural Rasuwa in post-conflict Nepal.
Although initially beginning as a romantic study of the affection between two siblings, director KC’s decision to situate the movie in the breadth of an evening lends it an intimacy and urgency not readily apparent in other features; but only if you can look beyond the highbrow title and the barely-there level of interest generated by the movie, that is.
The movie, which KC also wrote, unfolds in a household in Rasuwa, where Tikpe (Lakpa Singhi Tamang) and his sister Kshemi (Srijana Subba) along with their ageing mother, run a pub. With the father having passed away, running the household and the pub along with caring for Tikpe is for Kshemi to do.
The pub is frequented by other curious characters from the village like the rich and cocky Janak Lal (Saugat Malla in an effective role after a long time) along with the meek Mukunda (Arpan Thapa), who Kshemi has silently fallen for. It is not like Kshemi, who has already reached the age for marriage, is happily existing in her household. But soon, she might have to choose between her home, Janal Lal, Mukunda and Tikpe.
Director KC’s gamble with the screenplay seems to have paid for the movie which would have otherwise fell short if it were not for the details, which add richness and layers to the seemingly simple tale.
And this maybe the movie’s biggest achievement: To situate all the implications of the characters’ motives, and thusly the social hierarchy, as well as locational awareness in the breadth of an evening and the confinements of a home. It reminds one of Satyajit Ray’s intense family drama like Charulata and Agantuk.
The movie also comes from confidence. It makes use of plenty of cinematic devices without clashing into each other. Here, a seemingly negligible scene (but with relevance only later) segues into a monochromatic sequence, which then ends to make way for a surrealist scene. Scenes then unfold in almost real time where small details strewn throughout give the audience an invitation to the inner lives of these characters.
It also helps that the movie has good actors, who are not only situationally aware but also understand the breadth of their character so that they can condense their emotions for the movie, which essentially is one long act. Combining the narrative as well as all the performances, however, is at the helm of Lakpa Singhi Tamang, who plays Tikpe. And he delievers beautifully, going head to head with the likes of Malla and Subba. Go watch!
Published on February 15th, Wednesday, 2017 3:02 PM