Gaja Baja movie review: A day in the life of two stoners in Kathmandu

After spending two years in legal limbo Gaja Baja has finally released all over Nepal. The Film Development Board censors put the release of the movie on hold because the title of the film had the word ‘gaja’ (marijuana). They had claimed that its title transmitted ‘negative imagery’ to masses. But after winning the battle, producers of the film released their work last week amid expectations that it would attract a lot of youngsters.

The film is inspired by reality of contemporary Nepal. The story revolves around two friends Dadhe (Anupam Sharma) and Gorey (Sushil Sitaula) who love to smoke marijuana. The two friends face many obstacles and go through an adventurous ride while ‘hunting’ for marijuana in Kathmandu. They realise finding marijuana is not easy as it looks. The story takes an unexpected turn when they are chased by a gangster Dhude (Rabin Thapa) who is looking to get his money back from the two stoners.

The first half of the movie is enjoyable thanks to a well-planned script and story. It keeps you engaged and continuity doesn’t break. We can see the daily struggle of two ‘stoners’ desperate to smoke but they can’t as the universe intervenes in their plans every time. The storyline and situational comedy entertain you throughout the half. The second half is just as enjoyable as the two stoners are chased by the gangster who is in turn chased by mysterious men.

The actors have done a good job in trying to look as natural as possible. Watching Sitaula for the first time, I felt he played the role of Gorey with poise and didn’t look out of place throughout the film along with Sharma who makes us laugh throughout the film with his dark humour especially when he sees girls around him. What also stands out is the bonding between the two lead characters Dadhey and Gorey.

Thapa though looks too serious, and maybe the role of a gangster did not suit him as much. Barsha Siwakoti plays the role of Gorey’s girlfriend and even though she has a short role to play, she does well as she is seen trying to convince Gorey to quit smoking.

Gaja Baja is written and directed by Ganesh Dev Pandey who has done a commendable job trying to show the state of youths within the valley focusing on majorly on issues like marijuana and young boys borrowing money from gangsters. What is missing? The director is not clear on his own stance on the legalisation of marijuana. At a time where the society is against it, maybe standing on the fence was the safer option for Pandey. One could also argue the movie shows the go-to places to get marijuana in Kathmandu: thus could have been avoided.

Unlike many Nepali movies, the story is engaging and the first half flies by. But the ending is abrupt and maybe could have been written in a better manner. The cinematography in the movie is good and has captured the adventure of Dhadey and Gorey well. The movie is shot entirely in Kathmandu as we can see parts of the valley captured well, especially the trailing shots when the two stoners are on the scooter.

Overall the movie is entertaining and would be ideal if you went to watch it with your friends. The movie has a few ‘inappropriate’ scenes and the use of foul language makes it unsuitable for family viewing.

Director: Ganesh Dev Pandey

Genre: Dark Comedy

Cast: Sushil Sitaula, Anupam Sharma, Barsha Siwakoti

Screening in Cinemas near you

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