Witnessing a ‘real’ story in a feature film is fun for the audience, but making such a movie is an equally challenging task for filmmakers. When you go to the theatre to watch this week’s release Khaag, you have to consider the peculiar position of this movie. It is not like a regular movie; it has its own strengths and weakness.
In order to compete with regular movies, the film should have had something extra to appeal to the average audience. Khaag apparently lacks such vigour, and reaches to a point where it becomes a borderline informative documentary, which the makers claim to be a ‘work of fiction’ right at the beginning.
The movie begins with information about the context and setting. Likewise, it ends with an infographic presentation and an ‘advocacy-style’ song. Having done all this, a question arises: Why did the director and the producer not make the real characters act for the movie and develop it as a full-fledged documentary? Perhaps that would have been more exciting.
The movie lacks many essential features of a well planned and executed feature film. Its plot does not move. The point at which the movie begins and the point at which it ends is almost identical. There is no significant change in the position of any characters. There isn’t an easily identifiable climax to look forward to. Overall, the movie does not have a story to tell.
Of course, there is a conflict in the story, but it is structured in a specific pattern. Whenever the audience witnesses a fight sequence, it is certain that the same pattern repeats, with the same people, for the same cause. Therefore, many fight scenes are redundant. The 95-minute film, hence, looks unnecessarily stretched.
A good movie does not tell the story, it shows it. But, Khaag tells many things instead of showing them. It is clear from the very beginning. The information provided in the beginning, along with credits, is already burdensome; but the director goes on to provide more technical statistics at the end. Because these data become a significant part of the story, the movie is not accessible for people without statistical illiteracy.
Experienced director Manoj Pandit has skillfully mobilised camerapersons to film nighttime fights. With appropriate visual effects, the fights look effective. Background sounds, however, can complement the camerawork only occasionally. As the movie is set in the jungle for most scenes, a careful and natural use of background music could have been an advantage.
Pandit’s choice in developing the lead character in Prabin Khatiwada seems prudent as the actor looks simple, yet can deliver bold vocal and facial expressions. Likewise, Pandit features Ashant Sharma as the hero’s assistant, and he is capable of reflecting the complex emotions of a civil servant.
There are many characters on the antagonist side. Puskar Gurung leads them. His acting is okay, but at times, he fails to break the stereotypical mould of a traditional villain.
Deepa Pant, who acts as the hero’s wife, cannot establish herself as a heroine because the story limits her role. But, at the same time, her acting also does not meet the expected standard. She needs to improve a lot if she has to continue her acting career.
It is a good idea that the movie begins with the footage of a flowing river, with rhinoceros in and around it, because it establishes the setting. Likewise, the use of a Tharu song in the background is also appropriate.
But, the audience cannot understand why the director chose to show credits, in indented fonts, above the image of flowing water in the beginning for they are not easily readable. The timing of the intermission also defies logic as it does not suggest any kind of pause or change in the direction of the storyline—such change, in fact, does not exist here.
Finally, the song that plays during the credit roll at the end is not necessary. Apparently, no one watches such clips after the movie ends. Further, the song’s opening—Ke hunna yaha—is a cheap and cliched catchword for activists of many sectors.
The movie’s promotional tagline is “You are honest—this is your story.” But honestly, Khaag lacks the power to be a story that interests common people. The movie is suitable only for film festivals and conservation-related events.
If you wish to watch it, watch it without any expectations.
Runtime: 95 minutes
Writer: Kamal Jung Kunwar
Director: Manoj Pandit
Cast: Prabin Khatiwada, Deepta Pant, Ashant Sharma, Puskar Gurung
Published on March 10th, Sunday, 2019 11:25 AM
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