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“Who runs the world? Girls!”
Beyonce’s song Run The World (Girls) could be taken as a reference to describe the behind-the-scenes of the recently released movie How Funny, which was full of laughter and gags. The film has a number of popular female personalities including Malvika Subba as the film producer. It was almost like breaking taboo in the Nepali industry having a team full of ladies including two female leads with actors Dayahang Rai and Anoop Bikram Shahi in supporting roles. The real life chemistry of the characters does contribute to this movie’s success.
WOW met up with the film’s director Nilu Doma Sherpa and the two female protagonists Priyanka Karki and Keki Adhikari for some insight into How Funny.
How different was this project from your previous ones?
Priyanka – It is probably for the first time that a Nepali film has two female protagonists played by two contemporary actresses. And the best part about it was that both have equal parts in the story, everyone else are supporting characters. There are not many Nepali films with female leads. And this one has two. This in itself makes it an exceptional case. My character Ramita is very special to me given that I have never done such a role on screen, and I do like to experiment. She may be quite different from me in terms of appearance. However, it is our similar ambitions and hardworking ways that brought me closer to her character.
Keki – Being Pushpa was amazing because I have never acted with another female lead. Priyanka and I had such a good chemistry, which made people say, “Wish they were hero and heroine.” Plus, we don’t usually find many female crew members on the set except for maybe hair stylists or make-up artists. But the overwhelming female dominance in this project made it much easier for us to put forward our thoughts and receive suggestions when required. The atmosphere gave us all that ‘women empowerment’ feeling. My character is a naïve village girl but somewhat determined. And the ways she tries to reach her goal makes viewers laugh. This film was different to me because it is filled with situational comedy. Plus, it was a great opportunity to work with famous artists. Now, I feel like I made a good decision as the audience liked it.
Any memorable incidents on set…
Priyanka – I think it’s filled with memories and also the one film that brought Keki and me closer. Everyday would be filled with energy and giggles, not like the ones where there is a male character and only one heroine is a female which gives you an odd feeling. This time it was a female dominated set. There was so much discipline and girls were prioritised.
Keki – There are countless memories. But I think hard times are recalled more than the good ones. I remember shooting for a song that was shot in Kalinchowk. It was a place full of snow, and a day prior to the shooting I had sprained my leg. But everyone was ready for the shoot so I couldn’t postpone it. Anup is quite tall but I couldn’t even wear heels, plus I had to wear a sari in the freezing cold. But thinking back now, I am satisfied!
What is your favourite line from the movie?
Priyanka – There are a few which became popular like – “Duita khutta pasaar chu haat le dam dam musera khanchu” and another one is “Hune biruwako chillo paat mero ta baccha dekhi nai oily skin.” There are more as the movie is full of punch lines which worked for both Keki and me. I like her dialogue that goes “Hamro thulo buwa ko chora pani DSP.”
Keki – I have a punch line and it is shown even in the trailer, and people around seem to like it… “Man na pareko manche ko kei ni man pardaina, man parne manche ko aachii pani manparcha.”
Nilu – When we had visited the set for Fanko, we noticed a good chemistry between Keki, Priyanka and Dayahang. It was real. Even their characters on How Funny are somewhat like how they are off the screen. Just a little bit exaggerated for the film otherwise these people are exactly the same in real life.
Challenges as a woman director…
Nilu – Initially, it was really difficult for people to believe that I’m actually starting a project. There were people who had previously offered to help if I came up with my own gig. But when I actually approached them, they were very skeptical and unsure about my initiative. That was in the initial phase, followed by difficulty in finding the funds. And at some point, I also felt that maybe me being a woman had something to do with it.
There are very few women directors in Nepali cinema. How do you see this?
Nilu – In Nepal, I am the seventh one actually. But yes, it’s quite hard to find female directors. Yet these days’ girls are exploring more, speaking up and grabbing opportunities. But earlier it was hard for girls to come forward. Even I used to doubt myself and always thought I was only good enough to become an assistant director. Now that I think about it, had I taken a chance like today’s generation, I would’ve probably made my debut seven years ago. It wouldn’t have taken this long. For now we may see only few women directors but five years down the line, I’m certain the number is going to increase.