Published On: March 13, 2019 05:08 PM NPT By: Aditya Neupane

The man behind the first Nepali Hollywood film

The man behind the first Nepali Hollywood film

Born in Tibet and raised in India, Pema Dhondup had keen interest in films since his childhood. He earned a Masters in Business Administration MBA from Kurukshetra University in 1995 and started working for for CBS-SONY INDIA’s music division as a marketing officer. However, an intense passion for cinema swirling inside his heart led him towards the world of films. After gaining experience of three years at a corporate level, he and his wife initiated their first news video of the Tibetan people titled ‘Sargyur’ on March 17, 1993.

Dhondup has worked on several documentaries, promos, institutional films and TV series, short films and featured films. However, ‘The Man from Kathmandu’ is his debut Nepali film that is scheduled to be screened in both Nepali and English languages.

Here, My City’s Aditya Neupane interacted with Dhondup and talked about his career and story behind the making of ‘The Man from Kathmandu’.

Owning a degree in business studies, what drew you towards the film industry?

If you have a good combination of passion, dedication and hard work, that’s sufficient to become a filmmaker. You can simply grab some gadgets and make films on your own. However, if you want to develop filmmaking into a career then you must get a related degree. So after following film-making for seven years as a passion, I decided to grow it into a career and went to USC School of Cinematic Arts of Los Angeles as a Fulbright scholar in 1999. This is how my official journey of film making started.

While I was pursuing my masters in film-making, I made a film titled ‘Echo’ as a part of my thesis which honed my skills in film-making. Then I came back to India and shot my first feature length film in ‘Dharmashala’, which was screened in various international film festivals held in Spain and Puerto Rico. I have done more than 15 feature length films, six documentary films, more than 30 news videos, and several commercial videos. However, ‘We are no Monks’ is my famous project till date and ‘The Man from Kathmandu’ is my third narrative fiction film.

What inspired you to make Nepali film?

When I saw the Nepali film ‘Kagbeni’ in 2010, I was deeply touched by the film and started looking for the producer Nakim Uddin. I could not meet him during my first visit so I came back again in 2014 and asked him to make a film about nature, targeting the international audience. We decided to shoot the film in Mustang but when I was traveling back, I heard that a number of people from different countries are brought to Middle East to participate in war. I realized that this is a complex issue and so we could develop the idea further in film-making.  This is how the concept of the film developed.

What challenges did you come across in the making?

The entire process of making a film within a limited budget was challenging. Meanwhile, the entire coordination of international actors within the film was another hurdle that we had to face in the making. Initially, when we decided to shoot the film in 2017, a massive hurricane hit Puerto Rico and one of our artists was out of contact for more than a month. After all things settled, we finally shot the film by November in Kathmandu. Then in 2019 we headed to LA to film the remaining part. There were challenges in every field. They will challenge the patience of any person but the thing that matters is how you handle those hurdles.

What are your expectations with the film?

I believe the film is a good combination of action and romance with something to entertain the movie lovers. So we are not only concerned on how this film will perform in box office but also about how it fascinates and moves viewers. When I showed the film to some of my international friends, I was delighted to receive positive remarks on the film despite the budget constraints. As a director, I always prefer realistic movies but this time I have molded a serious story into a fiction fantasy. So I am slightly indecisive within myself about its commercial success.

The film is a new step to Nepali films and I feel so great to be the part of it. I hope our film shall open door to other passionate works of the country which could bring change in the film industry.

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