Torn in the prodigal war between 1996 and 2006, Nepal floated as a country divided into three hierarchies: the so-called elites, the ordinary citizens, and the rebellion of the Maoists in a superficial war between the Government and the party for the working class people—as they supposed—the Maoists. Amidst this illusory chaos, a family finds itself torn in the brink of reality—with a touch of revolutionary, a spirit of obligation, and a nature of empathy. Uma is a story of Uma (Richa Sharma) and her ties to several people throughout her walk—her brother Milan (Saugat Malla), her mother (Mithila Sharma), her “friend” Anil Kayastha (Pravin Khatiwada), her lover Vineet (Pramod Agrahari), and her father-like Guru Sunil Sir (Prakash Ghimire).
Each episode with one of the layered characters in the movie gives Uma a new image, a new visage. Whether her Guru taught her revolution through the beauty of poetry, or her brother taught her duty through stern honesty, Uma learns about life’s hard lessons through the special characters in the movie. Easily swayed by the aggression of her friend Anil, yet softened by her lover Vineet amidst chaos—Uma needs a figure, a special dominant force behind her to dictate her life and move forward, as this lonely girl seeks approval, guidance, and affection at her innermost core. Why wouldn’t she? The way her life derailed from the loss of her father in childhood until she broke down, Uma is a character of confusion, depth, silliness, innocence, and twinge. The most striking aspect remains the innocence Uma carries throughout the story. You see innocence in her eyes, her actions, and her smile.
In the past 200 years, the eventful peculiarities in Nepalese history remain the Anglo-Nepal War (1814 – 1816) and the Nepalese Tibetan War (1855/56). Being almost one hundred and fifty years away from today, the only other major revolution is the People’s War between two sides of Nepal—where Nepal seemed to have no control. Precisely why, this seems to be a valid reason for Nepalese filmmakers to be obsessed with the happenings of the People’s War Era, especially glamorizing much of the war—mounting the perspective of revolution in the souls of the Maoists, or the smokescreen of patriotism, duty, and dharma in the spirits of Nepalese Ruling Powers of that epoch. Capitalizing on this legacy that makes Nepal relevant in terms of conflict, struggle, and triumph, famed filmmaker Tsering Rhitar Sherpa (Mukundo, Karma) brings forth an emotional drama set around the time of the 2002 Royal Massacre (before and after). In essence, Uma is a tale, rather a perspective of a girl lost in the jungles of politics, with loneliness her only companion and darkness her only way forward.
Pulling a page out of Ramesh Sippy’s Shakti (1982) in broadcasting dissent between a dutiful father and police officer (Dilip Kumar) and an underworld tycoon and son (Amitabh Bachchan), Uma takes the melodramatic institution in launching the eventual rift between a loving brother and a bewildered sister. The pedestal of the screenplay comes off unconvincing and underdeveloped, yet the actions after the interval—evoking Uma’s entrance to the world of revolt hits the chords with grand symphony in what is an explosive second half. The whole of the half before the interval appears shady—many a times, methodical and hoary. It is the second part that pushes Uma into another gear, a new territory—into a full throttle of a war drama.
Uma could be referred as the Saugat Malla Show, with Saugat Malla giving a performance as natural as natural can—as the loving brother, the worthy son, and the duty bound and devoted police officer. One of Nepal’s absolute finest performers, when he performs, it just happens to click! The reason why it cannot be, in correctness, the Suagat Malla Show—is Richa Sharma. In the second half of the movie, Richa Sharma rose to the occasion and befell as Comrade Uma, with all her being. The shades she showed as part of the Maoists’ cadre, as a daughter, as a sister, and as a lover—she just colored her performance with some beautiful shades of variety. In general, the performances were beautiful from each character—something that lifted the movie during its glooms.
Flying from the creations of New Wave Nepalese Cinema, Uma is an accomplishment. Despite flaws in the story and minor faults in the exposition, characterization, and dramatics, Uma touches. It occupies—primarily due to astounding performances by the special two and everybody involved, a dynamic and stunning second portion, breathtaking visuals, cinematography, and photography; melodic and just perfect background music, and the splendor of meaningful cinema coming from home, sweet home.
Uma—a very beautiful name and a gracious effort.