With the development of cinema in the late 1800s, the genre of motion pictures has come a long way. Though making of pictures that could move on screen started in the West in the United States and the European nations; it has gained momentum all over the world. American movies still have the largest following in the world followed by Indian movies especially the Hindi films. It is an incredible feat for the whole of South Asia including Nepal that Hindi films are popular and acclaimed in all the regions of the world. It is because of the development of motion pictures in India that Nepal could benefit from this industry.
Nepali movie have not had a long history. It is still just around 7 decades old but what it has achieved in itself is significant. Although the beginning of the Nepali movie was flaky it has grown up to be is strong and promising. It has made a name for itself and has helped promote and develop our country in every single way possible. Although it is regularly accused of being a copy of the Indian Cinema, the fact one can’t deny is that it has made an effort. It is still learning. We should not forget that imitating is a part of the learning process. What we should always remember and consider is the distance it has covered from its starting line.
The first film to be shot in the Nepali language, thus the first Nepali movie is considered to be D.B. Pariyar’s Satya Harischandra which was released in 1951. The first Nepali movie to be shot in Nepal is Aama (Mother), produced by the then Department of Government of Nepal. The film was directed by Hira Singh Khatri and released in 1964. The lead actors of Aama are Bhuwan Thapa and the late singer Shiva Shanker Manandhar. After that the Nepali film industry started to grow with new actors, directors, music composers and singers among other technicians.
This gave rise private companies willing to invest in a movie and the first Nepali movie to be produced privately is Maitighar (the home of birth of women). The film was directed by BS Thapa and has Indian lead actress Mala Sinha and C.P. Lohani playing the main roles.
Following the success of a privately produced movie the then government of Nepal established its own film corporation. The Nepal film corporation produced Mann ko Bandh (Over flow of the Heart) and released it in 1973. The film was directed by Prakash Thapa and the lead actors in the movie are Salyan K.C. and Sushma Shahi. The film was followed up by the production of Kumari (Virgin) in 1977 and Sindur (vermillion mark) and Jeevan Rekha (line of life) in the 1980s. Among these movies Kumari also holds the record of being the first color Nepali movie. It would also be important to mention that back ground and playback music and singing have a special place in Nepali movies.
As it is evident in the early years of the Nepali Cinema there weren’t many private sectors investing in the production of the movies. Except for Sumonanjali Films Pvt. Ltd there weren’t many productions made from the private sectors. During the year 1980 the Royal Nepal Film Corporation and Information Department of the Government of Nepal did most of the productions. Under the Government’s production there was only one movie releasing in three years or so. During this period of Nepali cinema only 10 movies were released. They were Satya Harischandra, Aama, Maitighar, Hijo Aaja Bholi, Parivartan, Man Ko Bandh, Kumari, Paral Ko Aago, Sindoor and Jeevan Rekha.
Only in the next decade of Nepali Cinema did we witness a few private producers. The period of 1981 to 1990 offered twice the number of movies than the early era Within 10 years. There were 23 movies made and released which showcased the immense development Nepali Cinema was making. This era started with the movie Bansuri produced by Mahan Kumar Banarjee. It was followed by the movies Juni, Banchna Chahaneharo, Badalindo Aakash, Kancchi, K Ghar K Dera, Basudev, Biswas, Samjhana, Kusume Rumal, Anyay, Jhoda, Maya Preeti, Sahas, Behuli, Bhagya Rekha, Santaan, Saino, Mayalu, Cheli Beti, Lahure, Pheri Bhetaula and Tilahari. Most of the later movies in this period were produced by private production houses.
From the year 1991 to date there have been more than hundreds of movies made and released in Nepal. Some have been huge hits whereas some have fallen on their faces but all in all they have been a tremendous help for the development of the Nepali Cinema as a whole. Since 1991 there have been more at least 20 releases in a year. The number is high and it is hard to tell how much money each of them collected in the box office. As the tradition goes the movies with high profiled actors were a hit and those which had a good story and music did well too. For the rest having none of the mentioned criteria they probably doomed in the market.
Since the beginning of the Nepali Film Industry to the date Nepali movies have come a long way. The list of the movies can be overwhelming but then again this is what we asked for. The fraternity as a whole has gone through a lot of changes with time but having changes doesn’t mean they have upgraded themselves. Some changes have been good but most of them have been quite unnecessary and nothing more than a media circus. We hope that in coming days, we see quality improvement more than the quantity. We want good movies not many movies.
Today the Nepali movie industry has established many people as directors, music composers, actors, play back singers, script writers and so on. In a country that has a huge influence from the neighboring India; it is an incredible feat to have developed its own film culture even if it does have hints of plot lines from Hindi films.