We the members of kathmanducraze.com are in the hunt of the history, history of music or film or anything related to art. We could not afford to overlook the exclusive persona of this beautiful lady “Bhuwan Chand”. For those who don’t know who she is, well, she is the first film actress of Nepal. We discovered that she is an open history book of Nepali film industry. We went to her to learn about her experiences in this industry.
1) When and how was Nepali film industry established?
Documentaries were being made before the arrival of films in Nepal. King Mahendra was fond of it so whenever he went abroad he made sure they were documented in the form of videos. In 2022 B.S, Nepal Government’s Department of Information decided to make a film. It was called “Ama” (Mother).
I was chosen as a lead actress in that film and that is how films started. The film however was used as a propaganda tool for the then “Panchayati” political system.
2) Perceptions about a lady being an actress has changed a lot with time no doubt. How did you cope with it back then?
When I look at the magazines and read about the scandals these days and compare between the societies of then and now, I often feel days gone were the better ones. People stood by the values and were aware of the human dignity involved. People are still hesitant to get their sons and daughters involved in the field of acting. In spite of all the negative aspects that surrounded the films and the profession of acting, people still appreciated actors. Few newspapers of that time wrote good things about actors. I even got a very good review for my acting in an Indian newspaper. I think film journalism as a whole is declining these days. Small things are exaggerated to a high extent even though there is no factual basis for them. It really does not help anyone.
3) Can you recount some memorable incidences of your times?
Artists are abundant these days. There are many new faces. I don’t even know many of them. Back then, it was very difficult for an artist to get established. Since, there were no females in this field, male artists had to play their part too. Actors like Hari Prashad Rimal and Puspa Nepali acted as females in the plays. Even in 2022 B.S there were only few actors like me, Bimala Shrestha, Chaitya Devi Singh. The government announced the film in a haste. The lead hero was not decided yet. Siva Sankar dai had gone to Calcutta to record the songs for the film. We arranged an interview to choose an actor. One capable candidate was selected. However, later on the selected candidate got home sick and we had to take Siva Sankar dai in his place. The interesting thing is that Shiva Sankar dai was my father’s friend. I accompanied my father a lot. Shiva dai and Natikaji were all there and I was treated very well by them. Natikaji called me daughter. I was very excited to play as a lead actress with Shiva Sankar dai. That was one of the incidences of my life I can never forget.
4) You can find many institutes that teach dance, acting and many more these days .New faces are entering every day. There are even ones who invest to be able to act. What suggestions would you like to give to the upcoming ones?
We did not have the acting classes and dance institutes back then. We learned from our mistakes and gained experience. We practiced a lot. Plays were of great help. Live stage acts turned out to be a stepping stone for us in our acting career and made us good actors. I even acted in a play written by natya samrat Bal Krishna Sama in putali bagaicha of Singa Durbar. I acted in a role of daughter in that play where Santi Maskey was my mother. Nowadays new comers are inspired by TV actors. Whereas, many established actors are leaving for aboard. But I think if you are patient enough and you have talent then you can uphold the profession as an actor. The biggest flaw I see among the Nepali actors is that their lack of education. I would like to suggest them to finish graduation to the least before diving into this field.
5) How were you chosen as an actress in “Ama”? Any credits to anyone?
Well according to what I have heard form Mangal dai from royal photo studio, credit goes to a camera man called Dev ji bhai. We went for a dance show in Janakpur cigarette factory after our selection to act in the film. In the meantime, the director of the film had asked for camera man’s opinion and he responded in my favor. So it was cameramen Dev ji bhai and of course the director who were responsible for me receiving the part.
6) Can you share with us the name of heroine & hero who you think is the best in recent times?
To be honest, it is very hard for me to choose among the new ones as I don’t know them. But I liked Karishma Manandhar, who is beautiful and Jal Shah, who is a bit chubby but her expressions are very good although having chubbier side. All the good actors have very good expression. Madhubala, Mahuri, even old nepali actors were all good at facial expression.
Talking about heroes, all of them are brilliant. Bhuwan K.C, Rajesh Hamal & Shiva Shrestha have their own individual style. New ones are good too but they have to develop their own uniqueness rather than to imitate the established actors.
7) What was in your mind when you were in front of camera for the first time & what did the director say to you?
That was an interesting incident. As a stage actor, we used to travel to many countries. I had given interview for the film. At that time I was staying in Thamel in a rented room. All of a sudden, a black benz car arrived in front of the house and Indra Lal Shrestha, top tavala badak of that time came out of it. I knew him because he used to work at radio Nepal. I was rushed into the benz and was taken me to the director who applied makeup, maybe to test how I look and announced that shooting would start after 3 days as all the technicians were to come from Calcutta. I had no clue about the type of role I was about to perform but I was very happy that I was also going to be the act in the film.
We used to watch movies of Mala Sihna & Baijayanti mala at cd-hall. That hall used to be at the place where there is chamber hall now. We used to go there and watch a lots of movies for few paisas. I felt if given the chance I would also do the same. Therefore when I got chance to act I was more than happy. First shot of the film was taken at Chovar. Shooting for song is tough for actors and that was what I had to do in my first ever shot. I had no problems getting the lines right because of my experience in the stage plays. My first shot was acceptable in first take. The cameramen was so happy that he lifted me up. It was an unforgettable moment for me.
Indoor shooting was not available here so we had to go to Calcutta. I was amazed by the sights, sounds and buzz of Calcutta studios. They were so busy even in that time.
8) When did the shooting of this film end and how much time did it take for the final release of the film?
The film was funded by the government. We, the actors were already working in a government institution so we were never paid for working in that film. Because of complete support from government, it took only 3-4 months to end the film's shooting and within 5-6 months, it was released. I was not present at the time of its release though. According to Mangal dai, King Mahendra inaugurated the film’s first show and praised me for my effort. That was big thing back then when King was the Head of the State. I got 5000 rupees for the work I had done.
9) What did you do next after “Ama”?
Before the film ama, I was offered to act with Mala Sina in Maitighar as her daughter. Consequently, after the film ama I accepted it. Initially in between I acted in hijo aaja bholi as a lead actress. Later on when Maitighar was announced I asked the director whether it had any place for me to show my talent. His response was negative so I refused to act in it. After that there was dearth of films. I got more involved in stage plays. I got married in 2033 A.D and went to Germany for 2 yrs. After that I came back and heard only few films had been produced. I was offered a role of character artist in Basudev but was unable to do it. From then up till now, I have acted in more than 2 dozen films.
10) Which one is your last film and are you in this field till now?
My last film was “Man Mandir”. Following that I haven’t acted in any film but I am involved in this field as a stage artist. There is a certain kind of groupism rife in this field these days which I am against of.
11) Can you tell us the reason why did you left to act in the film even though you are interested to this field?
As you already know certain producers and directors favor certain group of people. I don’t go around asking for the role. Besides, it has been 3 years that I retired from Nachghar and now I have been resting. People still offer me role but they shy away when it comes to paying an artist.
12) Where do you originally come from?
My old home is in Mahindra Nagar, Baitadi. To be precise I have been there just once and that too recently.
13) Can you tell us about your qualification?
The biggest misfortune of actors in Nepal is inadequate education. I was interested in education however couldn't continue. There are too many distraction in this field so I suggest upcoming artists to join this field only after the graduation. I have studied up to I.A in RATNA RAJYA CAMPUS & B.A GRADUATION IN KATHAK DANCE. Later on I worked as a contract worker in the government office.
14) After the release of your first film “Aama” many people came to know you so how did you feel about it?
When our first film “Aama” was released I was in china. Our director came to meet us at Calcutta when we were on our way back. He informed us that our film was doing well and even King admired it. Afterwards people began to recognize me even while walking in the road. There were very few vehicles back then and we had to walk to reach nachghar. People came to talk to me and praised me for my acting. The students of Saint Xavier came to chat with me and also offered me tea. I had no issues with that. Newspaper also commented positively about me.
I am really worried about the plight of Nepali artists. I think Nepal Government should do something about it. Artists like Santi Maskey and Gopal Bhutani; they need help which are not being provided. Last but not least, I wish the government would allocate some fund for the artists. As a result we won’t have to beg and raise money for it.