Festivals of Dashain and South Asian Films

Happy Dashain to all. Here is today’s account from my South Asian Film Festival Diary: I was deeply saddened by watching a film that detailed the horrifying accounts of a Nepali journalist who was arrested by the (Royal) Nepali Army in 2004, locked up in a dark hell called Bhairabnath Battalion and tortured by mad, senseless and brainwashed soldiers.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

still from forgive! forget not

One documentary film after another- the marathon film watching. The Dashain, biggest festival of Nepali people, began yesterday while I was engrossed in watching non-fiction films and writing about the event in my newspaper. Hundreds of people in Kathmandu have been experiencing various aspects of the life and time of South Asia through the non-fiction films that are being screened at Kumari Cinema since Thursday. You probably guessed it right: I am talking about the South Asian film festival- Film South Asia- that is organized in the Nepali capital at this time in every two year. (Here is an account of the first day.) Today I watched films about the lives of girls working in an Indian call center (Outsourced), the saga of moustache in Bengali society (Moustaches Unlimited), the mast atmosphere (love, tolerance and ecstasy) in a Pakistani society with Sufi culture (Mast Qalandar). I enjoyed Outsourced very much as I am interested in the cultural aspects of BPO but I didn’t find anything new in the film because many things are already told in a Discovery Times documentary by Thomas Friedman who also wrote The World is Flat. The book also provides vivid account of BPO life and much more. The moustache thing was hilarious as I myself sport junga dari (moustache and beard).

Apart from those feel good films, I was deeply saddened by watching a film that detailed the horrifying accounts of a Nepali journalist who was arrested by the (Royal) Nepali Army in 2004, locked up in a dark hell called Bhairabnath Battalion and tortured by mad, senseless and brainwashed soldiers. I have written about my impression of the film for my newspaper in Nepal and here is the English version of what I wrote (not life by line translation because I don’t have the Nepali version here.):

The film, “Chaama Deu! Tara Nabirsa” (Forgive! Forget Not!), is the story of journalist Bhairaja Ghimire who was arrested the guerilla way by soldiers while riding back to home after interviewing a Maoist cadre. (The cadre was pillion riding the reporter’s bike). The entire film doesn’t have any faces (only sounds and bodies moving) except at the end when the reporter talks to the filmmaker because the entire story is told from the perspective of the reporter who is either blindfolded or kept in completely dark room throughout the 15 months in detention. Technically, the documentary is poor in quality and the filmmaker Pranaya Limbu hasn’t done much research. The only thing he did good is that he told the story of the reporter in a form different than the print medium.

Mentioning about the society heading towards forming a New Nepal and stating that the cycle of revenge never ends, journalist Ghimire says at the end of the film, “If the people and organization who tortured me come and as for forgiveness, I will forgive them. But I will not forge the incident.”

It’s his greatness that he is willing to forgive but after watching the film, viewers are compelled to ask some questions about the image and duty of journalists in Nepal. Should a journalist give ride to a Maoist cadre especially in such situation when the state has declared them terrorist and fighting against them? Bhairaja has repeatedly told the soldiers in every session of interrogation that involves cruel torture that he wasn’t even a supporter of the Maoist party let alone being a Maoist. His argument is proved as the Army, unable to prove his association with the Maoist, finally releases him.

There are many who work openly for certain political parties, even work at papers run by political parties and still claim to be journalist. How can those people be given the same journalistic identity that apolitical or politically neutral and professional reporters deserve? My question is: how can a reporter from, for example, Janadesh, a declared Maoist mouthpiece weekly, and I, a reporter who has chosen journalism is a career, can be treated in the same way? Yes having faith to certain ideology is on thing, openly working on behalf of a political party advocating that ideology is another. There should be clear demarcation.

Soldiers, while torturing the reporter, badmouth all journalists in general and brand them as the associates of terrorists (Maoists). My impression is that soldiers and many officers in the army are systematically taught negative things about journalism. If that is the case, the Nepali Army that is supposedly going through democratic reforms must take it seriously and try to change it.

The film, though tells a very important and must-told story, presents only the half side of a coin. The other half of the coin is filled with details of the inhuman torture and killings by the Maoists. “I will also try to make film about that,” said Pranaya Limbu while responding a viewer’s query after the screening the film in Kumari Cinema that was accommodating people not only in seats but also on aisles. I think he really should do that.

Related Blog:

Dare to Documentary: South Asian Film Festival

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10 responses to “Festivals of Dashain and South Asian Films

  1. Wagle, maybe there will be a movies coming about the recent abduction of the Journalist by the Maoist. I hope when that comes around, YOU TOO WILL WATCH IT AND SPEND THE TIME WRITING ABOUT IT ON THE BLOG. Don’t go around telling that the Army was bad, Maoist terrorism is worse and ironicially is STILL EXISTENT get that in your bheja…

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  2. FOR Maoist COmrades who are scared of Democracy:

    http://one.revver.com/watch/209412

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  3. I missed the wacky moustache thing…….

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  4. have a bloody dashin and explosive tihar to everyone. hope lord vishnu is with all. ( no offence to the commies)

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  5. A very Happy Bijaya Dashami to all Nepalese living in and around the world.

    May godess Durga bestow all the blessings to all of us.

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  6. wagle,

    the word Journalist in nepal is”some who writes for some paper with some news without enough evidance to back it.” you guys are nothing but roaches that inhabit our country nepal. you write what ever you feel like write, without any consience on what you are writing. press freedom is nothing more than a free pass for you guys to write an article with a plot of fiction and real life people in it.

    well trust me, the respect that you guys should get is too far away from what you are getting now just because of how you guys have to reporting all along.

    almost all the media is alligned with one political party or another. thus we get completely un-bias news according to you.

    grow up and wipe your tears and your ass too if you have some dropping left on your undies from the royal regime, coz the road ahead with the maoists is even worse.

    CRY-BABY!!!!

    UWB: The last thing we need is a preaching on journalism by the faceless agents of autocracy like you.

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  7. South Asian festival was excellent specially loved bengali movies…

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  8. HAPPY VIJAYA DASAMI to all Nepalese.

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  9. Well, Forgive! Forget Not was great job by Pranay Limbu. You have written in Kantipur that the move is one sided but I think state has more responsibility than rebelion so the way they tortured counts more. And I must mention Pranay grabed that thing and he dared to documentry which was slogan of the festival.

    But I still feel bad when I remember British Bollywood. That documentry should not have shown. That was more like Porn. Jhoooooooooooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr one! but was it also a daring?

    Hami Kunaka Manchhe, I think people who were featured in move, are told to mention repeatedly Hami Kunama Baseko manchhe so that Kesang could give the title Hami Kunako Manchhe.

    I didnt find that movie interesting but yes, Life with Slate was wonderful.

    Its a kind of fashion to watch Documentry. I think, its good but the name of Kumari Hall has its expensive impression and yes it is. I called one of my friend to join with me and she said KUMARI HALL? i have no money yar!
    I told her its only 30rs, yes its only 30rs but we had coffee and when I was about to pay 60 for two cup, coffee boy asked another 40rs. It means per cup 50? I paid, after all that was Kumari Hall!

    Well, I could not go last two days but I really enjoyed whatever I could watch!

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  10. tell me uwb, when was the last article u published which was un-bias??
    reports’ job is to report a story and it is the people’s job to judge it.
    but you guys are busy backing one side of the story from the first sentence you write.
    read the comments along all the threads and then you will see how we the bloggers feel about yellow presses like you guys!!!

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