Reel World: The journey of ‘Dhago’ a short Film shot in incredible Nepal

Time to get back into the writing as they say, and what better way to start than by covering my recent foray into filmmaking, that to in a country on the other side of the equator to me at the moment.

Recently, (as recently as November last year), I happened to be lucky enough to travel to Darwin, Australia for the first time ever. It was so that I could attend a screening of another script I had written for a wonderful team up there who were wanting to turn it into a movie. So it happened, the script was a movie now, and I was invited to join the rest of the cast and crew at a screening up there. Fantastic experience, being able to see how the movie turned out and how audience reacted to it.

But it seems I wasn’t done with yet, and prior to leaving, I pitched another story, this time of supernatural theme, to one wonderful lady, whom I’m great friends with now, and she loved the story enough to want to produce it. So after coming home from the 3 day trip in November, I wrote the script, ‘Under the Emu Sky’, sent it off and found that it was immensely loved.

The only thing was, it had to be shot in Nepal. Luck was with us though as the producing pair were already booked to visit family back home, and I was the only one who had to join them. So we did. We went.

What crazy 3 weeks! From the very next day of landing, we set up camp in the lounge room of a Production company there and started out planning: from finalizing script and dialogue, to giving orders for tailor made costumes, from locking down cast members, to securing equipment and crew members to help us during shoot.

This was my first time making a film in Nepal so can I just say I was both excited and terrified at the possibility of things either going really well, or incredibly wrong. Alas, we even hired a ‘shooting bus’, and yes, they have those, and these buses actually drive around with a plaque that says they are a ‘shooting bus’.

I was lucky, because we had to travel outside of the capital Kathmandu, towards a national wildlife park in Citwan. A place I had never gone to. So I was both sightseeing as well as working! 🙂

During shooting days, we would get up by 5am and drop back onto bed after midnight. We would take cold showers in the mornings and not because we wanted to wake ourselves up violently, but because the hotel was Eco-friendly, and would not serve hot water in its plumbing till the Sun rose high in the sky and it’s solar panels sunbathed.

Incredible so, I was also co-directing with a wonderful director who was a cornerstone in making ‘Dhago‘ happen. Without his joining the team, I dare say the film mightn’t have been. His knowledge of the place and the crew was an immense asset. It gave me an opportunity to learn a lot and observe a lot.

In the three weeks I was there, we only had 3 days off to do what we needed other than our film work. You’d be surprised what one can fit into 3 days when required. I was able to visit temples, families members, a get together with cousins, go shopping, movies, and even take selfies in between all this fuss. In fact, we took some great selfies!

So what was the highlight of my trip? Wait for it. You will see me in the film when it comes out! 🙂 yes, astounding enough, I gladly took the role I was recommended for, and throughout the weeks and days leading up to it, was incredibly nervous! Lol.

It was an experience of a lifetime. The thing about films, is that each one is different, and therefore working on them gives different experiences and memories. I travelled back home with a lot of fun memories, and in a lot ways ‘Dhago’ is a very special film for me.

During shoot, there was a lot of laughter, rushing, panicking, quietly screaming, pushing jeeps that wouldn’t start, working under scorching sun, hungry and thirsty on one specific day, generators that betrayed, or talent that forgot to show up, or a snake floating in the river where I had to step into, albeit not on the same day, and it was a dead snake we happened to chase so we could get an incredible shot, only to realize later that it was dead. From waking up so early in winter, to spending three nights in costumes and SFX makeup with no jacket (’cause I was tough like that), from incredible smoke effect that required 3 men to puff their cheeks out, to running after the actually ‘Dhago’ (thread) that was being carried away by the river. Or hurrying a handful of team members into a misty forest to capture eerie shots that look million-dollar on screen, or having to jump onto the back of a moving jeep in order to get the shot to work. These and many more are incredible memories, something’s I will always remember fondly.

Was it the same shooting a film in Nepal as it is here in Australia? Definitely not. But was it fun? Hell yes! Both different in there own rights, both same in their own rights. What made it different was the place and the people you get to work with. Truth be told, I’d love to do it again, but let’s see what life has in store first.

‘Dhago’ is a story about a tour guide grieving his wife’s dead, and the cultural influences that guide him. The whole movie was shot in Saurah, Nepal except one scene in Kathmandu. The film will most likely be 20minutes when finished, and is currently undergoing post-production work. I’ve seen the first cut, and can I just say, it makes me super proud of the team, the entire team who helped me take this ‘idea’ I had, and for their trust in me throughout this. It literally would have stayed an ‘idea’ and one day forgotten if it weren’t for Silpi Dhungana who became the film’s Executive Producer, for giving me a chance to tell her a story; for Nitesh Raj Pant, her partner and the film’s main lead, for listening to her and my pitch of the story; for Sakar Pant, my co-director for agreeing to come on board with us and help steer the ship in Nepal with utmost efficiency and dedication; for Ravi Sayami, who joined us as Director of Photography, for listening to the vision Sakar and I shared for the film, and willing not to compromise; for my cousin, Garima Sharma for agreeing to give me company on the trip, who eventually helped the production out; for the rest of the cast and crew who worked tirelessly for insane number of hours, and for their patience; and to Binay Kansakar, our editor, who is now spending hours joining our footage and helping us with this second-last phase of filmmaking. A massive thank you, and great virtual hugs!!!

‘Dhago’ might have been my story, but it certainly isn’t just my film! And I simply can’t wait to see how audience react to it, and the comments that may come our way when the film is ready for the screen. So join us on the film’s Facebook page where there will be updates on our progress.

http://www.facebook.com/DhagoTheMovie

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Reel World: New Film ‘Dhago’

I know I’ve disappeared for few weeks but I’m back again, and with exciting news! I’ve been away in Nepal shooting another short film I wrote. Long story short, I’ve just come back from hectic few weeks and suddenly find myself suffering whiplash from work. So, with this post, I’m resuming my writing for something to do as well as make progress on projects that were set aside.

‘Dhago’ is a shortfilm based on superstitions in Nepali culture, and has been shot in the country itself. ‘Dhago’ when translated, means ‘thread’ and the film works with various type of ‘threads’ that bind humans in life.

Go here to follow progress, view great behind-the-scene snaps and catch regular updates: http://www.facebook.com/DhagoTheMovie

And click on the following to see the first teaser released almost immediately after production wrapped up: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Kku4vjuHQUg&feature=youtu.be

I welcome any feedbacks on the teaser. I’m nervously anticipating how this film will be taken as it’s my first ever Nepali story.

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Poem: Scribble Boy

There was once a boy
bony and frail
alone in the corners of the pages
he’d sit and wave
when by chance he’d come across another
live and vibrant and free.
He’d feel the pages flip one by one
and held on for the moment to feel air on his own fibrous skin
as they’d flip him along with another page.
His home was on the corner of Page 102
and he’d seen what they’d done to 101 and 103
dog-eared and worn over the years.
He knew not if he felt lucky
that nothing of importance was on his address.
All he yearned for was to be real for a minute.
Was it irony, he was part of a fairy tale collection,
and his companion on 102 was another Boy made of wood
whose wish was the same:
To be a real Boy?!
So came one day, he was borrowed once again
along with the book,
and so he waited once more to be flipped
to feel the air under his wings.
Instead he heard rip-rip
distant and drowned, till it came to 102.
The page was ripped, by a boy who cared little.
And scared he sent the scribble who hung onto the dear page for life.
The world turned upside down and inside out and dark and light
till he came to find himself on a paper boat
on whose side sat he, flying through the air
free!
And land it did, drifting on the glistening pond surface
with wind sending it forward, once,
and after all free, from pages, from pages.

The Scribble Boy smiled,
he may not be real but he was now free
to move where he pleased.
Until it was that the evening fell
darkness swept and no more real world remained
as waves of rain pitter pattered, soaking the boat
till nothing of it remained.
No more Scribble boy,
no more dream
of a magical life for he.

Poem: Price of Memories

Let the mind sleep
the days long and gruelling
beneath the age old oak tree
shadowed, hidden
a requiem for dreams
those long forgotten past
of silken touch and rose lips
the soft whisper of one’s life
from beyond
the veil of shredded promise
lifelong to be
for better or worse.
Let the mind sleep this once
recall the lost voice, the lost laugh
those few words patched up
against the beaten wall
a face upon it smiles
as flake by flake it falls
those memories, lost.
Maybe one day, maybe one moment
a glimpse of it returns
and that day shall be heaven on Earth.

Poem: Chimney Boy

In the crawl space
above the ceiling
amongst boxes of old memories
lay a trinket breathing
as the night grew cooler
and the snow sprayed a aplenty
the boy lay dreaming
of warm hearths and the brewing
as he lay there hidden
where he could wipe his tears streaming
and hugged the chimney bricks
that’s where the warmth really was
the fire crackling several feet beneath.
In the crawl place
dark and dusty
no one cared what the chimney boy did
breaking stale bread stolen from window sills.
Where the night grew just a split bearable
with the warm bricks giving kindness unseen.

Poem: Chains and Keys

Hold my hand and don’t let go
of the old dreams and memories,
hold my hand and don’t you throw
the keys and chains though rusty
the younger days of youth may know
how the breeze feels down by the night sea
spent with freedom and zeal
but don’t you let your heart feel
the years that have crept up too frequently
my bones may ache and scream, down by the old tree
in the backyards of hard country
but they sure know the meaning behind the veil
that life ain’t made for wasting
the best days, those that seem to look aplenty
ain’t no old man be regretting a life lived,
a life seen.

Youth,
they may be carefree, fearless with an air of invincibility
but they be just as likely to waste it in an eye’s blink.
So, hold my hand and don’t let go
your life in exchange for longevity,
don’t be a fool, go back to school
learn about the dark side of drugs and drinks
and wiped out nights that no longer stay in memory.
Hold my hand and don’t let go,
you each deserve a chance to grow old.

(Dedicated to all the youth struggling with addictions etc. especially the ones who tragically couldn’t hold on. 2013 was a year with many tragedy hitting the news. Hope this year will not be the same. Take care.)

Poem: How does a man measure his life

How does a man measure his life?
By the days he lived as a rogue
and travelled thus forth to explore
the world shrinking and expanding
through each door, each land, each and own.
The cuisines tasted and wine swirled
beneath baking Sun or cool of moon
by the vineyard did he roam
watching fair maidens dance and giggle
or make love to her upon feathered downs
or ran as gayly down to the stream
and under the gaze of birds and bees
did they let the water surround
as the young ones fell
time and again into the throws of love
young, unspoilt by decorums and preferences of
family and friends and society.
How does a man measure his life?
To some it was naught but selfish frolics
amending broken hearts here,
and down the road leaving more behind?
How does a man do such thing?
Put a price on his memories?
The laughters had and the tears hidden
in that search for a lifetime of happiness.
As he rides that rusty old bike
down a straight country road
basking in golden light
with nothing more than the breeze as his own
and he’d breathe it all in,
the feeling
one with the wind
one with the world.
His.

Poem: Faith – the mountain mover

She who is most unusual
made of something akin to a tree
but magic be something that flows
all the way through her core,
in Faith, she sits ever so still
the littlest of the three
ever so still she will sit
never minding the birds that perch
or chirp, stirring
never would she flee
gaze rested upon a still rock
barely the size of her fist.
Faith sits,
in the hope that today be the day
her magic sparks,
like Clandence who can light a fire
or Papa who stands the mightiest winds
or even Mama who could sing
bringing mist over the mountains.
Faith sits,
Papa’s voice playing in her mind
‘Faith can move mountains, dear,’
and she stares at the rock
while the other treelings play
hide and still.
Watch her a moment
give her a glance
maybe now, maybe in a bit
Faith may move that mountain still…
for three long days
the mountain remains,
and Faith dismays
resorting to a rock,
maybe that she will sway…
except how the drowsiness betrays
her head lulling from this side
to that,
and when she wakes briefly, the rock can no longer be seen.
Had she done it?
Truly?
In her sleep?
Resolved, she stares at the mountain then.
Perhaps tomorrow it shall move.

Poem: 2013, the year’s review.

A year in review!
2013, what can I say
about you?
You carried with you a terrible burden
’13’ gleaming
like the haunting of ghastly nature.
You lingered as if taunting
high and mighty all year
and in you we saw something of awe
you gave us 11/12/13
with a rippling roar
and sent twitter all aflutter
I dare say somewhere
a bird lay tired from the flurry.
It was a year that halted for me
all the events
and time ticked so slowly
I, suspended in midair
brawn and brain nothing
but a decorative pineatta in the air
and so gravity went topsy-turvy
and I threw hopes
at nothing more than the glimmer of days
and wasted hours beneath sun selling wares.
Lessons I learnt aplenty
at times even felt like a kid
and the world a giant classroom
with a stern teacher at its head.
Nothing more you gave
and ever more you took
of memories, a mixed bag of things.
And as you drew close
the walls let go
and amongst new grounds I stood
as glorious as though a flower in hopes of spring.
Though harsh you have been
you have brought daring
to a timid thing
and surprising ideas swept
the mind and I dove
towards making ones own opportunity.
While you stood at the cusp of your end
you yielded and showed kindness
untainting your very stigma from 13,
and as you turned, you offered gifts
gifts or grand dreams,
of many streams,
a map of sorts,
all to lead
down the roads
of 2014.

Poem: Silence

Silence seeped in,
as slithering fog,
quiet, mystifying,
it’s face unique and changing,
rolling over green of life,
chilling, as if fingers cold grip,
in this stillness birds flee,
towards the greying skies of a morning,
that refuses to welcome that,
which is smothered in fog’s,
heartless being.
What meaning is of this?