When social media users jokingly connected an angry-faced image of Nepali Congress chief Sher Bahadur Deuba with ‘Ghamad Shere’ last week, the movie received some free promotion. Now, as the movie is already being screened, it is clear that the movie is not related to the former prime minister in any way. Yet, the movie is precisely related to Nepal’s political system in which the powerful easily manipulate the law for their vested interests, inconsiderate of common people’s feelings.
Besides being a satire, the movie is a romantic love story. The development of intimacy between two actors, played by the real-life couple of Nischal Basnet and Swastima Khadka, is interesting to watch though it is morally undesirable. Likewise, there are many other things that a critical and sensitive viewer wishes the movie could have avoided. However, the way that the movie interconnects a political satire and a romantic love story is what makes it an interesting watch.
Ghamad Shere is one step ahead of other contemporary productions in terms of satirising the current political system. Whereas the mainstream media outlets occasionally report the lack of resources at local government bodies to execute the rights delegated by the constitution, the cinema industry had never covered the issue in this depth.
This movie clearly shows how the absence of qualified officials at local government authorities mocks the system. Here in the film, you see a police officer encouraging an innocent individual to file a complaint against a rivulet so as to hide his incompetence. The mayor and his deputy play with the system in cahoots with local power brokers and misinterpret the law while the helpless public continues to remain at the receiving end. This context is somewhat relatable to the reality in Nepal.
As the movie reaches its end, you know that the mishandled political system teaches genuine and honest people also to manipulate existing provisions to meet their vested interests. This film shows how power corrupts people like our hero, Shere (Basnet), illegally launches sand and aggregate-extraction business at the end.
The romance that no one looks forward to
The movie’s only dance number–Kali Man Paryo Malai Gori Man Paryo–is a spoiler in this context. As the song tells you, our hero Shere falls in love with his saali, his wife Parvati (Sushma Niraula)’s cousin named Gauri (Khadka). Since Nepali society always jokes about saali-bhinaju affairs casually, it might not interest you.
Nevertheless, screenwriter and director Hem Raj BC plays a trick to keep the audience hooked: till around 15 minutes before the first half closes, you do not see any possibility of an extramarital knot. Shere is a dipsomaniac and Gauri vehemently hates the habit. Though she shows some intimacy with him whenever they meet, she equally respects him as a bhinaju (brother-in-law).
On the other hand, the hero is also an ethical guy; despite Parvati frequently irritating him about alcoholism, he has never thought of leaving her for another lady. After she fears that he loses all the money that he earned by toiling in a foreign land in the liquor, he has recently deposited Rs 800,000 to her account. The Shere-Parvati couple seems happily married overall; he assists her in doing the dishes whereas they also make TikTok videos occasionally. Though Parvati wants Shere to go back abroad, it seems she is concerned about the family’s livelihood. It hence seems the saali-bhinaju flirtation is just social and it will not develop any further.
But by the end of the first half, you are certain that a marriage between them is imminent. Without giving a hint of it, except the song, the writer-director skillfully forces you to change the perception of the characters along with the plot’s next course.
Because you know how the story will end at the end, the second half is a bit predictable. Yet, you will continue watching it because you want to know how the movie glorifies ‘morally corrupted’ hero and heroine (because, traditionally, all of such stories tend to glorify the protagonists for showing a clear-cut conflict with the antagonists).
Despite such attractions, the movie frequently bores you. The project repeats most of the errors that critiques have been pointing at for decades. The first: the cheap way of showing sex. As Shere and Parvati make love on the upper floor, his parents sleeping downstairs feel disturbed. The final sequence also includes an intimate scene, and it does not add any value to the movie. The second: the use of physical disabilities to make people laugh. A minor character of the movie cannot speak fluently and the movie makes fun of him. The third: the unnecessary repetition of the word ‘Ghamad’ to stress the theme. The fourth: including a fight scene at the end though ending the movie before the fight could have made a better sense.
Cinematography-wise, the movie is an average production. The opening scene is cliched; you see a vehicle moving on a serpentine road for around one minute. The camera angle changes but you do not see anything new for the entire minute. Though the director tries to play with radio sounds to set background for a couple of scenes, the sound work fails to make any impact. A rainstorm scene appears out of the blue–it seems quite improbable. But the camerawork is okay.
Acting-wise, the lead actors–Basnet, Khadka, and Niraula–have done their job fairly. Niraula has signalled a promising future in her debut project. Another actor, Roy, also makes an impression. However, no attention has been paid in the making of minor characters. There is a child and he could have made the audience turn emotion in some scenes if he had been trained well.
Both as a satire and a love story, this movie has raised concerns over some genuine issues. Thanks to the interesting plot and convincing acting, the movie turns out to be a good watch. If the team succeeds in avoiding some of the formulaic errors, it could produce better movies in the days to come.
Genre: Drama, love story, satire
Runtime: 135 minutes
Screenwriter/Director: Hem Raj BC
Cast: Nischal Basnet, Swastima Khadka, Gauri Malla, Sushma Niraula, Badal Bhatta, Lokendra Lekhak, Roy, Saroj Aryal