All stories do not have a happy ending, and this week’s new release Prakash is one of them. That is a spoiler for the story’s end, but the rest is a wholesome experience. Go watch it if you have time.
Set in the village of Jumla, Prakash unfolds in a post-loktantra time of Nepal’s political history. Throughout the film, the local tussle between the people who have a love for monarchy and the new, hyped loktantra and concerns for the future in the changing times is constant. So are the events of the political influence, political affiliations and political pressure.
The village has its roots in the conventional rural setting, where people still make a living from agriculture and animal husbandry. But, modern city life and technology can be seen along the way.
The film also plays around with the impacts of class difference and an organically budding romance.
But, the major story revolves around Prakash (Pradeep Khadka). Prakash has a troubled life living in a poor economic background, does labour, and wants to be a teacher. He soon realises that it is not an easy dream; he is reminded of it time and again. Yet, he wants to achieve that position and the respect that comes along with his qualifications.
Characters and acting
Actors in the film have embodied their roles and convincingly picked up the mannerism including the local accent pretty well. There are some sways in the accent, but the inconsistencies do make it easier for people, unfamiliar with the accent, to understand what is unfolding on the screen.
As claimed, Khadka has redefined himself in the film. His role is different from the commercial movie persona that has almost stereotyped him and he has done a very plausible job. He has adapted and consistently executed the quirks he picked up for the role. It is fresh and promising to see his development.
Deeya Maskey (as Sita, Prakash’s mother) has also done an exceptional job. She portrays a mother that is selfless one that is always worrying about his marriage and does all that she needs to provide for her child. But, Sita has her own struggle and is in search of her “missing” husband. Throughout the film, her acting and mannerisms are natural.
Debutant Renu Yogi has been a real surprise and has performed convincingly. She has encased the innocence, romance and helplessness of being a victim of a class divide. Her interaction with other characters is organic.
The characters played by Prakash Ghimire and Rajan Khatiwada show the “realistic” side of society. People do not always get what they want and it is because of the characters that take every advantage of the innocent, powerless and gullible. They both have done their parts well as well.
The characters shine more in the scenes that are shot in a go. With a background in theatre, the actors get into the scene and really give depth to their characters.
The ray of hope
Prakash is a refreshing film experience for the Nepali audience. It ditches a lot of the overused tropes and lets the scene, the character and the chemistry between them grow organically.
While Nepali films are majorly about romance and drama, they easily mess up their courtship and give people false expectations on how relationships should look like. But, this film can actually show how relationships can grow organically with some smooth, cute courtship process. And though at an expense of a relationship, people can actually learn a thing or two about respect.
The film also avoids defining emotions of love, sadness or tragedy with unnecessary use of (internal) monologues or thoughts, all the overused techniques. And, has beautiful landscapes, and uses wide shots to capture that beauty.
It was also refreshing that the creators juxtaposed elements and used symbolism very well. Be it two people divided by class on either side of the wall or the bridge that one has to cross towards their dream… be it the contrast between the speeches or the state of national flags and political parties… all add more layers and contexts to the storyline.
Within the film, scenes also wrap up neatly and do not feel jumpy, something that filmgoers regularly have to complain about in Nepali films. But, the gap is closed by the use of the background score that connects the two scenes. Even when the scene changes, the faded background sound keeps it connected to what is happening in the new scene. The climax of the movie might be an exception for many in this regard.
Many might find the pacing slow, or find the issue with the lighting, but it is justified for this film.
As it is refreshing, the film is worth watching for Nepali spectators who seek a realistic, heartwarming experience.
Release date: August 26, 2022
Director: Dinesh Raut
Writer: Bikash Subedi
Artists: Pradeep Khadka, Pradip Raut, Deeya Maskey, Prakash Ghimire, Rajan Khatiwada, Renu Yogi
Cinematography: Rajesh Shrestha