When we first see Chandru (Priyanka Karki) in her element in director Ram Babu Gurung’s Purano Dunga, she is in one of the many lush fields that belong to her father somewhere in the hills.
But she could have been anywhere in Nepal, where being born to a well off father does not guarantee an easy life for a daughter. We get a sense that Chandru knows this. We are sure of this when she runs away (literally, in one of the movie’s many absurd moments) with a labourer, like she could not have done any better, to the nearby town of Pokhara where she ends up being an entertainer at one of the many seedy dohori joints around the city.
However, it is not just Chandru who is running aimlessly towards the prospect of a more fulfilling life. The other lives populating the distinctly tragic universe of Purano Dunga share the same fate as that of her’s. There are the two brothers Bhakta (Maotse Gurung) and Batase (Dayahang Rai) who live in an impossibly small cottage along the shores of a placid lake. Like Chandru, the two brothers are also chasing a dream, even though it may be vastly different from one another.
… it doesn’t matter, atleast in Purano Dunga, that the characters don’t run deep. Yet, they are highly recognisable as the personification of longing and ambitions.
Amidst all the crazy restlessness perpetuated by the calling for always reaching for more is Manmaya (Menuka Pradhan, in a stellar performance) who finds fleeting moments of joy even in the confinements of her limited existence. This contentment of her’s collides with everyone else in the movie who are always on the run, never happily existing, upsetting everyone who cross their path.
For a movie which effectively does not follow the traditional three-act structure, Purano Dunga finds its conflict, if you will, in these two distinct ways of living. There is not so much of the conlfict, though, as much as there is the lingering question of which side do you want to be in, the movie seems to be asking.
For this same reason, it doesn’t matter, atleast in Purano Dunga, that the characters are not deep. True to the movie’s theme, we only know their aspirations (and idiosyncrasies). Yet, they are highly recognisable as the personification of longing and ambitions.
For the most part, the deeply resonant story (again, by Gurung) of the movie skirts along the line of a tragedy and comedy, between which director Gurung strikes a neat balance. The messiness that comes through living itself makes for a variety of comic situations, if you are good humoured, that is.
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