KATHMANDU, Feb 7: If ever there was a term coined to reflect actor Dayahang Rai’s mental state, it would have to be “riding high.” Check out his filmography, however brief, and it’s pretty evident that the state of euphoria has a valid reason.
The National Award winner for best supporting actor in the critically acclaimed film Dasdhunga, his role in Highway, the first ever Nepali movie to be nominated in Berlin Film Festival 2012, and a memorable act in Loot, one of the highest grossing Nepali films in recent memory, attest to the fact.
Unpretentious with seemingly no hang-ups about his ‘apparent’ success, the down to earth actor reveals his future plans and love for theater with Republica.
Growing up, my mother’s bedtime stories left a significant impact on me. I wanted to tell stories, make movies. I believe a filmmaker is quintessentially a storyteller first. About facing the lens, it was totally unexpected, something I never planned. Rajesh Hamal’s Kassam was my first movie; it totally bedazzled me, and from there started my journey into the world of cinema.
A decade of acting
I’ve been involved in theater for the past 10 years, got to learn from actors like Anup Baral, and now slowly yet selectively building my journey into films. So far I’ve done four movies, and lucky for me they’ve all been well received. Ram Babu Gurung’s Anagrik based on indigenous issue was my maiden film followed by Manoj Pandit’s Dasdhunga, Deepak Rauniyar’s Highway, and Nischal Basnet’s Loot.
The Loot factor
I was interested in the movie from the word go. Nischal (Basnet) had come to me with the concept of Loot and it immediately caught my fancy. A month later, he brought the script. One glance and I knew then and there that this was the film to do.
The story is fresh, very original, and had that undeniable local appeal. The fast paced movie is full of dialogues and situations that everyone can relate to. Above all, the actors have given their 120% to it. It was a tough acting stint for all of us. Portraying funny through subtle acting is challenging.
Serious or funny?
I had to mentally discipline myself for Loot, whereas Dasdhunga was another ball game altogether. I had to prepare myself mentally as well as physically. I was not just acting but trying to portray an individual and that was challenging.
As an actor you need to detach yourself from your old identity and do justice to the act, and if the audiences react, that’s when you know you did your job. I want to do roles that are serious, funny and everything in-between. Acting is all I know, so movies and theater are something I see myself doing for a long time.
Highway’s Berlin stop
I feel lucky to be part of movies that have become landmarks in film history. Loot is doing an amazing job in the box office collection, and is probably one of the highest grossing movies in recent times. Highway’s entry in the prestigious Berlin Film Festival is surreal.
I feel blessed to be associated with both projects. The public’s expectation from me has increased, and I can already feel the pressure. I feel obligated to do good projects, and live up to their expectation.
Money vs. job satisfaction
There’s no denying about the struggle, especially in Nepali media. Pleasure from one’s vocation is important, but at the end the day, money matters and everyone is looking to make some profit.
I’m just starting and it’s been good, so far (touch wood). My philosophy is, as long as you adopt a lifestyle according to your standard, it’s possible to lead a happy life. It might not be fancy but satisfying.
Love of theater
I’m busy with the construction of the building for Mandala Theater at Anam Nagar. The theater group is four years old and with five original plays to its credits. In the past, we’ve done plays at United World Trade
Center, and various locations in and around Kathmandu, all under our mobile theater. One of the highlights was taking our work from Damak, in the east to Butwal in the west. We’ve staged plays in 16 different districts.
After the opening of Mandala Theater, it’ll be a place for all theater lovers, and you can come and enjoy plays every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.