KATHMANDU, Nov 25: Ah…what a relief it was! I finally got to see something new and worth appreciating from the Nepali film industry after quite a long time. Directed by Gopal Chandra Lamichhane and produced by Shakti Badlab Ghorashaini, “Boksi” is such a relief from all those overrated dhisum dhisum and ghintang ghintang. Adapted from Bal Krishna Sama’s play, this one and a half hour is a stressbuster from ‘mainstream’ movies released in recent times.
Having heard about the film, I was fascinated by the title - Boksi or witch. I came up with a lot of speculations as this title suggested to me various predictions about the film. As I had hardly heard the names of the director and producer of the film, at first I thought that the film had something to do with witchcraft and made for children, something like Bollywood movie Bhootnath. Some said that this is second-grade movie and that is why it has not been screened in the cinema halls around the town. This filled me with more curiosity. After I came to learn that this movie is an adaptation of Bal Krishna Sama’s one-act play, I made sure that I have to have my own say about the film.
Kollywood, which has hardly opened its avenues in terms of adapted movie-making based on historical subjects, Boksi was one of those few movies for me which became a must see. Other films that were based on history and literature like Badlindo Aakash, Kumari, Bhanubhakta and Prem Pinda did succeed commercially to certain extents but also raised different controversies as critics said these movies did not do justice to what the history said. Boksi became a must see for me for this was the first one-act play of Nepali literature written by Bal Krishna Sama in the late 1930s.
Thanks to Avinash Shrestha, the extra dialogue writer and the man behind the screenplay for not destroying the beauty of the play as written by Sama. Indeed a movie needs some commercial touch for it has to recover its investment, but when it is made relating to some historical aspects, it also must make sure that the masalas should not overshadow what the movie is actually made to depict. Boksi strikes this balance well as there is hardly any such ‘formula’ in the film that would make it seem overly done.
The story that often revolves around the four clay walls in a village setting is more than enough in the movie to show what Sama tried to say through his play. For a while I felt like I was watching Hollywood director Mikael Hafstrom’s suspense thriller 1408, which starts and ends in a hotel room describing how hallucinations can cause major problems into human psychology. Indeed, Boksi proves the fact that it is not always the sophisticated sets, macho actors and cheesy songs that are required to make a movie going. The movie can speak a lot within one and a half hours if the approach is well.
Like screenplay writer Avinash Shrestha says, it is true that these sorts of movies should not be made for mass but for class. The three year long project of producer Ghorashaini and director Lamichhane has paid them off with the completion of Boksi, which ironically awaits its turn to get released in the cinema halls around the capital city of Kathmandu and elsewhere. As the Film Development Board (FDB) already has a clause that reads “Special films made under special purposes need not follow queue system regulated by the board and will get permission for special screening”, this movie should not be barred from screening as it unfolds the historical myths people had in practicing witchcraft.
Produced in not more than Rs 1,500,000, Boksi has only five characters. Bhune (Raj Acharya) steals the show with his surprising role. For those who know little about Raj Acharya, he is the same teenager that many have been admiring for his comic role in Tito Satya teleserial where he plays the son of Dipak Raj Giri and Deepa Shree Niroula. Raj as Bhune in Boksi gives a pleasant surprise with his drop dead serious acting. He is troubled of a scary recurring dream. He sees the same dream every night and feels safe only with uncle Chabi (Shankar Lamichhane). Surprisingly he even dislikes the company of his own mother Rukumuni (Subechhya Thapa), a widow, and shouts at her to leave him alone whenever she tries to shower her love. The troubled mother requests a baidya (an Ayurvedic doctor) to cure her child. Later she finds out that Bhune was not facing any medical problems. In fact he was troubled psychologically. Upon requesting enough, Rukumuni shatters into pieces when Bhune, the only reason for her to live accuses her of being a witch and is afraid that she would eat him up.
Without much melodrama, the movie deals properly with child psychology. It makes it clear how negative influence can make deep cut in children’s minds and even cause them to hallucinate them till death. The negative role of Naina Aama played by Saru Baral is another appeal in the movie. Deepak Bajracharya’s cinematography in digital format is what makes this movie close to art cinema. Bikash Gurung’s background score is as much as the movie requires. However, a few scenes of grief could have been edited more to shorten the movie. It’s only in the end that you realize some commercial touch and add ups but this also goes well for it ends with a social message especially for children who can take this movie otherwise. The movie ends superbly and does not go as you predict.
Though this movie may not prove out to be a blockbuster in Kollywood’s way of defining a good movie, I would not however mind to rate it 3.5 out of 5.