Bhakta Chand is an aspiring independent Film-maker. He is fond of making documentary in different issues and is optimistic about his upcoming release documentary “The Curious Case of MR. BHIM THAPA” soon to be released and on the process of various Film Festivals. Here’s an interview by Narayan Pradhan with Mr. Bhakta Chand before he heads for his documentary screening in abroad.
Q. Why Khoja? Please share some of your best moments doing this documentary.
– Absolutely. Khoja or Khojababa (BhimThapa) was an unique subject or character to begin with. He has invested a lifetime of work on the walls, streets of Nepal writing and inscribing “khoja”. And yet, his accomplishments has hardly been recognized by anybody except his family members. Personally speaking, I wanted to capture his final moments, him being 96 and build more profound relationship with the character. I enjoyed my time with him enormously. Let me tell you, even though he is 96, he has the energy of a child. Once he starts writing word ‘Khoja’, he feels the word as though they were makers and to take the topography of him being of the moment. He believes in the potentiality of the elements in that word.
Q. What inspires you for choosing this subject?
– I have made few documentaries on various issues and subjects, but this one was totally different. This guy is a legend or some sort. But there are many unanswered questions that the general public wanted to know. I was curious and baffled by the energy and time he puts into his so called one-man revolution or sort of. He has travelled all over Nepal and written over 8 million “khoja” on the pavement, walls and stones. He did this for 37 years and still going strong.
Q. Why do you think documentary films are so important in a country like Nepal?
– Documentary films are always important no matter where you live. It’s a wonderful way to expand your awareness of the world around you. There aren’t many documentary film makers in Nepal. This is simply because younger generation are not too fussed about it as it is not mainstream entertainment. In a country like ours, a powerful documentary can change the way we think, raise awareness, educate and motive people. The idea of evoking some sort of emotion through human storytelling and connecting through characters can be only good thing.
Q. Why are Nepali documentaries still lagging behind? What reasons you see the most?
– I would not say we are lagging behind, rather we have been cut off the opportunity on the big stage. I remember going to Kathmandu International Mountain Film festival (KIMFF) couple of years ago, there were many sub-standard International documentaries put on the show but hardly given any opportunity to the Nepali documentary makers. We have a nasty habit of accepting anything outside Nepal is good because they are English or European works and anything we make is not good enough. It’s really sad affairs with our festival organizers and very traditional and backward thinking. We know we are creative enough to showcase our work to the International level.
Q. Is there any good probability in terms of betterment of Nepali documentary and exploring interesting issue?
– I have met few foreign documentary makers in Nepal. Nepal is a documentary heaven. We have so many virgin subjects/issues that has got little or no attention. We need to encourage younger generation into this field.
Q. What makes ‘Khoja’ to watch at least once?
– I am not going to force-feed anybody. If you are looking to find out more about Khojaand and its philosophy, this is the documentary to watch. It has a great background score by Kevin MacLeod. He was generous enough to use couple of his tracks and they are pretty melodious.
Q. What is your expectation from this documentary?
– Creative documentaries are for creative people. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea. I think it will go down well with selected people. It was more of a team building exercise and learning trade of documentary making. We have come far but still long way to go.
Q. Who will be your target?
– Like I said before, few selected people. It’s a creative documentary and has a different style and flavor to it. I am hopeful this will get pick on by festival circuits.
Q. Please share some of your future plannings. Last but not the least what is the main problems, opportunities and challenges for independent film-makers?
– I don’t make plans for the future (laughs). I just roll the dice and see what comes up. Film making has become easier these days especially with the digital revolution and easy access to filmmaking tools. Independent filmmakers like me face many challenges but them some sweet challenges. It’s all about problem solving and finding solutions. Who does not like to be a mad scientist? Nobody believes you and they think you are crazy. That’s being a part and parcel of being an independent film maker. Challenges bring it on!!! (Laughs)