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Muna Madan (Migyul Magazine, Vol.2, May 2004)

Actor Deepak Tripathi (left) and Usha Poudel in “Muna Madan.” Source: Asia Pacific Arts

Muna Madan premiered in Eagle Theater in Jackson Heights on March 7, 2004. It was a sold-out show and tickets were hard to come by. It was probably one of the first times that people sat on the steps and stood in the aisles to watch this Nepali movie, which was sent to the Oscars to represent Nepal — the second movie ever. The first movie Caravan — also known as Himalayas — was made by the French and shot entirely in Nepal, while Muna Madan was directed and produced by indigenous Nepalese who made the movie truly representative of Nepal.

The only disappointment that New Yorkers had — and still have — is that this movie was shown for only one show on a weekend. A lot of people had to leave dejected without getting to view the movie. Muna Madan has not had a movie opening in Nepal yet, owing to the Maoist problems. The film will be opened in the Darjeeling and Sikkim areas soon.

We had the opportunity to meet the producer Mr. Naba Raj Dhakal who had come to the U.S. for the Oscar showing and had brought the print along with him. We asked him for a short interview.

Q. Could you tell us more about yourself and the movie?

A. I started off as a technician in cinema and have worked in many productions in Bollywood and in Bangladesh. Some of the movies that I have worked on include Tarzan, and Kanya. I lived in Bangladesh and started as a spot boy.

Inspired by Muna Madan, I also named my daughter Muna. When I started this project, a lot of people discouraged me saying that an earlier movie was made already and that the public was not prepared for another Muna Madan. But Muna Madan has everything that a story needs. It was cross-cultural, covered various emotions, had drama and so on.

Muna Madan

Producer: Naba Raj Dhakal
Madan: Deepak Tripathi
Muna: Kusar Paudal
Didi: Mithila Sharma
Sherpa: Vijay Lama
Ama: Subhadra Adhikari
Kurdina Sau- Junwal Nirshah
Director: Gyanendra Deoja
Music: Laxma Sesh
Camera: Gautam Shreshtra

Only new actors performed in the movie so that people identify the characters and not the actor (established actor) playing the character. Due to this no distributor was willing to finance the movie.

Q. What problems did you face?

A. As the distributors were not willing to finance the movie, I had to take personal loans from the banks. The total expense was 72 Lakhs on the movie. It was a lot of money and that was always a big worry for me. Once the movie was complete, I did a few charity shows and also am marketing the movies myself. My motto throughout was: if it is a flop it will still be recognized as a good
movie. I want NBA to leave a mark so that every movie coming from this production will be seen and recognized as quality work. Just like Mumbai’s (Bollywood) Rajshri Production.

Q. What did you think of the nomination from your country to the Oscars?

A. Everyone’s ultimate dream is to reach the Oscars. It brought me so much happiness as it is everyone’s dream esp. in my maiden Nepalese venture.

Q. Where else will the movie be showing?

A. The movie will be going to the Palm Film Festival Show. It will be coming back in May with the Midwest committee. The previews have been great. It was shot in 17300 feet above Sea level — Ganesh Himal and some secret shots were done in Lhasa.

Q. Do you have any plans to show it to the New Yorkers?

A. I had no such plans but I had wanted to see NY esp. after the 9/11 episode. Further, It was declared on Jan 27th for the Oscars. So I had to bring the Oscar print along. I felt that if I could hold one or two shows then I could at least cover the price for the aeroplane ticket. The DC Nepal
society show was held on Feb 15th and was very successful. So I felt and knew it would be a success in NY.

I have put everything on the line for this movie and the expectations have been high in the Nepal Samaj especially since all charity shows were always houseful.

Q. What was the message that you wanted to bring through this movie?

A. I wanted to make the new generation aware of old Nepalese traditions and about historical and traditional facts about Nepal. I did not want to make another spicy commercial Sasu Buari story but rather a meaningful story. I did a lot of research for this movie. I could have probably done my Ph. D. with the amount of research that I did on Muna Madan. While the camera cannot replicate the book exactly as the book, I have tried to use the camera to depict it as accurately as I could.

Q. Could you tell us something about your next movie?

A. My next movie is called Nasu based on the book by Dr. Taranath Sharma. I am still doing the research and working out the details.