Your own ‘Chakka Panja’

Published On: November 3, 2017 08:11 AM NPT By: Kalu Maila

It seems that everyone wants to make movies in this town. Yes, Chakka Panja made a lot of money and the second one did bumper business as well but that doesn’t mean everyone will make money in the movie industry.

Only a few dozen movies make money every year while the rest fail to recover their investment but that hasn’t stopped our real estate brokers, business folks, scam artists, and even NRNs from producing movies. Now, our actors themselves produce movies because either they now don’t get any movie offers or they want a bigger slice of the profits or they have no choice but do so to stay relevant in the industry. 

A friend of mine is back from the US and he wants to produce a movie. Why would a nice guy who has saved a few hundred thousand dollars not invest in some gas station or a convenience store or an apartment or some little start-up somewhere in the US instead? Well, when one gets bitten by the movie-making bug then it’s very hard to let go and the person will not be cured until he or she produces the movie and loses the investment. But what if the movie goes on to make money?

Then good for him or her and hope they will continue to make movies again. But why on earth would you want to throw away the money that you have saved over a decade on a movie here in Nepal? Well, only he has the answer or we should go ask a fortune teller somewhere in Ratna Park. 

I met my friend at a coffee joint in the city a few days ago and he had the script ready, written by some white guy in California. I asked him how would a white guy who lives in LA come up with a story about folks living in Kathmandu? My friend tells me that Kathmandu is like LA and people are the same everywhere and they have the same dreams and hopes even though we might think in rupees and they think in dollars.

Well, I tell my friend that it’s probably the other way round because some of us do think about winning the DV lottery and making dollars while they think about how much it would cost to rent a cheap hotel room in Thamel in rupees and sometimes get chased by our village mothers for trying to be cheap somewhere in the mountains.

The only thing we have in common with folks living in California is that we both get earthquakes now and then and that’s about it. Our traffic jam is nothing compared to theirs except when we have to make way for our VVIPs when they are headed to the airport. Our waiters and waitresses here do not really dream of becoming actors like in LA. But when it comes to the film industry, we do have our Harvey Weinsteins as well but we have yet to see any film producers or those who harass women in the movie industry get slammed by the media and the world or even be punished for such acts. 

My friend tells me that he wants to make a movie about a NRN guy who comes back to Nepal and goes on a trek and falls in love with a village woman.  I tell him that, first of all, nobody in Nepal really wants to watch a NRN and his vacation in Nepal. The NRN thing is not exotic anymore. It was not like 20 years ago when only a few and the lucky had the opportunity to go the US for studies or as tourists or managed to disappear there and somehow legalize their status and are now legal residents. 

Nowadays, everyone has someone related in the West. And stop with the funny accents. Well, if you moved to the West before high school then you are more than likely to speak with a foreign accent but if you moved there in your twenties then don’t fake it. Listen to President Trump. He doesn’t like fake anything and neither do we. 

How about switching the characters and instead making a movie about a white woman who comes to Nepal and falls in love with a rafting guide? That has happened. My friend’s brother who worked in the tourism industry fell in love with a Canadian woman, went to Canada, had a few kids and then got divorced and now lives in the US with a Latina and has three kids with her as well. He works at the local furniture factory and has a beer belly and has no plans to come back to Nepal at all. 

How about a mountain guide who falls in love with a rich socialite from LA while climbing Everest? Then, they move to LA and our hero doesn’t like organic food, the nice sunny weather or even the traffic jams, and is homesick. He doesn’t want to marry the rich western woman and leaves her to come back to his village and marry his childhood crush. Now that is Oscar material!  Maybe, I should make a movie instead!

Since, my friend lives in LA it wouldn’t be that difficult to rent a nice house and shoot all the US scenes there and then come to Nepal and shoot around Everest base camp and Thamel and a little bit of the Durbar Squares in the valley. If he is lucky then he would probably get his movie distributed by some independent film distributor there as well. Yes, think global, my friend!

I tell my friend that since he has lived in the US for more than two decades, he should make a movie there with his savings. Why not your own story about your life as a student, then a professional, and now a citizen in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, the real story of hard work and making it big!

Nothing wrong with making a Nepali movie but not all of us can make a Chakka Panja or Loot. Sometimes, you have to be lucky as well. Just because you have a great cast doesn’t mean the movie will make money. Just because you have a great story doesn’t mean that your movie will break all box office records here in Nepal. 

I tell him that if he really wants to make a movie in Nepal then perhaps he should make a Zombie movie. How about ‘Zombies in Kathmandu’? Just gather all the tourists who are hanging out in Thamel, shower them with cheap local ketchup, and ask them to chase Nepalis around town. Just film that and laugh all the way to a US bank. 

The writer is a house husband who believes in changing, if not the world, the community he lives in one person at a time. Reach him at

Leave A Comment