Ram Babu Gurung is one of the country’s highest-paid film directors. Gurung, known for ‘organic films’, has come a long way as his Kabaddi series has not only been a hit in Nepal but also around the world.
His recent sequel of Kabaddi, Kabaddi 4: The Final Match, has been released in nearly a dozen countries including Nepal and has earnt over Rs 130 million in a span of a week, becoming the fastest Nepali film to earn Rs 100 million.
On the occasion of the release, Onlinekhabar caught up with Gurung and talked about the relevance of the Kabaddi series, making sequels, the Covid pandemic and his future projects:
The film showed a strong commercial trend even before its release. How will Kabaddi 4 help Nepali cinema’s business crisis?
From a commercial point of view, a Nepali film doing well is good not just for me, but also for the entire Nepali film fraternity. This confirms the audience’s interest in Nepali film and art. This is the beautiful side. The cinema industry across the world was in crisis due to the pandemic. Now that it has subsided, things are looking good for the cinema industry.
Is the Nepali film industry in crisis due to the dominance of foreign films or due to a lack of standard story, brand and craft?
Compared to foreign films, we are very weak. We don’t have the budget these foreign films have, nor do we have the skilled human resource and creativity they have. Foreign products have the upper hand not only in the Nepali film industry but in all other Nepali industries. This is no different when it comes to films.
But, we need to understand that what the audiences look for is entertainment. We need to respect that and make films to entertain the public. I feel that Nepali cinema is slowly maturing and expanding its audience, but we still have a long way to go to compete with foreign films. We must push the government to bring in favourable policies but at the same time, we must also work at getting better.
Is Kabaddi 4 being made just for the sake of making money, or will it also contribute to the artistic aspect? Isn’t a sequel supposed to make the creator lazy?
Filmmaking is primarily an artistic endeavour. However, it is an expensive kind of art. As a result, it is economically significant. The series has been produced using a business approach based on what the viewers are interested in, and if their interest grows accordingly. It’s fine to develop a sequel and entertain the audience as long as the plot can be continued with the existing characters. There’s nothing wrong with making a sequel, in my opinion.
But I do agree that a sequel could make the creator lazy. The reason is a series must be linked to the preceding plot and events as soon as it is called. Making a sequel does not mean that creativity dies. I believe that a creator can still express his or her creativity when working on a series. Nevertheless, as a producer, there is greed for business in the series. But, there is no pressure.
The fourth series is titled Kabaddi 4: The Final Match. Does this mean there will be no more sequels?
You have asked a serious question. The viewers will know for themselves where we are going. At the end of the fourth sequel, the viewer will know.
Apart from Kabaddi, what kind of story you are working on?
Apart from Kabaddi, there are plans to work on the stories of east and west Madhesh. Prior to Kabaddi 4, there were plans in the pipeline, but the pandemic affected our plans.
Once again, is Kabaddi 4 a continuation of the previous film or does it have any new features?
The events, stories, and experiences of each character change over time. Over time, the main characters in Kabaddi show how the events are connected with them. This is not to say that Kaji has a completely different story. For example, in the beginning, we saw three people riding an old bike on the dirt road of the village.
When it comes to Kaji his lifestyle has changed, and his character development also increases with age. It has also brought some softness to his personal nature. That kind of change is found in all characters. When it comes to Kabaddi 4, the main soul of Kabaddi is about Kaji’s marriage—whether Kaji gets married or not.
This story was translated from the original Nepali version and edited for clarity and length.