WOW | What You Think

Women & Films On Digital Platforms

Text: Anushka Shrestha

Sahara Sharma
Independent Film Maker & CEO, Gauthali Entertainment

In almost 60 years, Nepali Cinema has remained largely city-centric. From production to the stories we tell, most films concentrate on the urban and elite. This is perhaps the biggest loss for our arts because almost all of our films have looked and felt the same even when we have such beautiful stories in every chautara and every galli and this is what the digital space can revolutionise.
Every story is worthy of being told and representation matters. In Nepal more often, a film’s worth is based on the money it can bring back. The film market traditionally has been a capitalist one. What this does is it creates value based on monetary gains, and this, in turn pushes away stories of minorities and anyone that isn’t tall, fair, hetero male as the central character. With the digital platform and the autonomy it gives, people will be able to tell stories from their lives and people who are like them. Under-representation causes symbolic annihilation while seeing one’s linenesses on screen can be cathartic.

Moreover, a larger platter of films and tv in the past have been fairly elitist, with only a few individuals having the authority of decision making. This in turn had created an unhealthy environment, a monopoly of sorts where the audiences had to make do with whatever they were offered while many talented film makers, storytellers had to keep mum owing to the lack of resources.

The digital platform because of its very nature is accessible to a far wider population and they are more in demand. As a result of which more and more young people are encouraged to make films and the audiences will soon get a wide variety of stories to choose from.

The playing field – the digital space – is also great for professional filmmakers to explore newer avenues in terms of storytelling and style, for example, someone who has only made thrillers could try romance. You don’t have that kind of freedom when you’re working on a three hour feature that requires a hundred people toiling on set and huge sums of money.

The medium is also great for new and upcoming filmmakers who might not have the contacts or resources for a big feature. For them, the web is like a performance stage where they can get noticed and hopefully funded for future projects. The most important aspect of the digital medium is the fact that it liberated the filmmaker from all shackles. You don’t need a fancy camera or an expensive setup, you can make a film with a phone. Now when the process is so intimate the filmmaker is free to experiment with stories and characterisation. Plots that would never make it to theatres owing to the censor and other such restrictions will find a place on the web.