Dhuwani – From Here To Nowhere (2013)

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Girls’ trafficking, a major concern: in the context of Nepal, girls’ trafficking is one of the hotshot issues in the list of resolutions for the Nepali government, officials, and even the non-governmental sectors. Women and girls, of various ages, face the music of these ruthless, money-hunching predators and fall prey to the ugly world of bodily trades—devastating their innocence and snatching away their virtues as pious, saintly carriers of legacy and the embodiment of Nature. Filmmaker Pitambar Pandey aspires to bring the issue of girls’ trafficking to the focus of the general Nepali audience through his vehicle, Dhuwani—a movie that attempts to show people the state of girls’ trafficking in the district of Surkhet, the busy annals of Nepalganj, and the dirty mess of Nepal.

The imperial questions: does he succeed in invoking the perennial reactions of the audience? Does he manage to show the state, the condition of such vulnerable Nepali girls amidst the dreadful brokers of human life—flesh and soul? Is he upright in the presentation and the storytelling aspect? Simply, does he produce something worthwhile for the general persona? Many questions, yet one nonpolitical and meek answer—no! Not at all—not in any honesty or integrity.

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The screenwriter/director fails miserably in his attempt to create a realistic social drama in the backdrop of Surkhet and largely Nepalgunj. Visiting rarely known territories of the Western regions of Nepal, at least in the history of Nepali Film, the filmmaker walks ahead with a noble intention in presenting a realistic social drama on one of the most haunting issues of today’s Nepal. With the sole ambition of unraveling the racket of girls’ traders in the Nepali community today, Dhuwani has all the necessary spices and one epitome of a hard-hitting subject—a filmmaker’s dream come true. Nonetheless, if anybody manages to botch the sure shot epic that could have catapulted Nepali Films into another terrain; not to ignore the acquaintanceship proportion that the movie could have garnered for this vulnerable issue—the storyteller, himself, falls flat right down to the core of flatness and executes a poorly timed, dodgy, directionless, and whimsical movie. With no character development, and most stunningly—no protagonist at all, at least not developed with any sense of urgency or suitability, Dhuwani comes across with gallons of hopeless liquidity in the deficient form of technicalities, story development and advancement, storytelling, and film direction, lack thereof—all in a perfect, wholesome unison. Nothing, and in the most subtle and simple manner—nothing works in favor of the film, except the popcorn during the break!

The redeeming quality—the premier feature of the movie—the cinematography does not save the movie! Rather, it becomes one muddled effort into presenting a documentary-styled scenic depiction of one of Nepal’s beautiful paradises into a feature movie with social initiatives—confusing what one would assume a social crisis, a drama with a beautiful presentation of the lush and magnificent natural eroticism of Surkhet. All of these exoticness conjoining such richness to the urgency and utter natural poverty of the mean streets of Nepalgunj, Dhuwani becomes a mere transportation service from one end of Bheri to the other of Banke—on and on, with an honest intent garlanded by flaws as big as dinosaurs and married by a gigantic defect: lack of direction.

4A point arises during the mid-portions when one would have to recall whom the protagonist is—amongst all the corny characters showing off their uninspiring mimicry skills. Delivering dialogs worse than an amateur and all seeming in a joint mission, for or against, the movie makes it difficult for the intelligent viewers to consider the actions with empathy, whilst making the ordinary cinema goers completely lost in viewership, as the movie turns out to become a ride of coincidences that ends up helping the protagonist. Achievement seems a rather foreign concept for the makers of the movie; mission, planning, vision, and working towards a goal—seem alien, to put it nicely. Amazingly and yet awfully, the protagonist, the perceived one, Junga (Kishor Khatiwada), rides the great Royal Enfield—yet, as shown in the movie, his vulnerable and very innocent looking sister (Anuja Gayak) feels the need to visit some foreign land—lured by a stranger—to earn money. Earning money and leaving behind her comfortable education and a brother rich enough to drive the Bullet across the streets of Nepal; all seemed very logical and perfectly acceptable, except not! No less, in the eyes of the viewers at QFX Cinemas, or the eyes of my friend, Pragyan, or the eyes of the beautiful women seated beside us—the women who seemed to have far superior knowledge in filmmaking and film analysis than the entire crew of Dhuwani.

Having watched Madras Café recently—a very good espionage thriller—moments into the movie, a question arose: Is Dhuwani an espionage thriller instead? One would argue because the camera movements, cinematography, and the excessive usage of montages as well as the thrilling feel the movie tried to inject, all of such technical operations suggested that the movie could be a sleek spy thriller in disguise. In the world of objectivity, not that anything as such is a crime, but when montages and such camera drifts become the norm and the point of focus over the story, dialogs, and the actors in the movie, one would assume something has gone terribly wrong. Surely indeed, people—common people—come to watch movies for the stories they tell, the entertainment they promise, and the message they wish to deliver. Definitely not—the audiences would not pass in for the espionage-esque camera drifts and techniques, without purpose, substance, or even occasion—just for the sake of movement, and the giggles it seems.

2In what would be a major miscue, the majority of dialogs and the conversation between characters could not have been more irritating, annoying, and nonessential. Much of the conversation reached a point of eternity, where one would suppose—eternity is actually a real entity, a present reality, perhaps the only truth in the world of myths! The characters, especially the dialog delivery of the great actor, Prabin Khatiwada (essaying Mohan) would not cease in turning into a blabber of hens crowing and what complimented matters, the doleful work on dubbing and synchronizing that anybody with eyes and ears would notice, even without! The best part; second only to the crowing sessions of Prabin, the appalling use of accents—the Madhesi accent—by actors from non-Madhesi backgrounds. Indeed a great parody, Dhuwani—of course!

For many, movies are meant to touch lives through the stories they reveal. For some, movies are a form of entertainment. For the special some, movies are a representation of literature—the new kind of literature, the visual literature. In the context of Nepali Cinema, Nepal has progressed to a certain state with a Badhshala or an Uma; flawed as they may, such movies represent Nepali Cinema and the direction Nepali cinema is heading towards—glorious and shiny with much to divulge. When movies such as Dhuwani appears, and let us not forget the cult stupidity called Karkash, a time to reflect comes upon as an automated response. Are Nepali filmmakers making movies for profits, for the commercial value solely? Or, is there a genuine attempt to lift the film consciousness from the level it stands at the moment to another level—the level that could mount Nepali Cinema as another prose in the sophisticated literature of visuals, a new coming of stories from a unique culture, a new ground—a fresh territory?

9A film analyst could hardly blame the filmmaker here for producing phony cinema, for the sheer reason that Nepali Cinema is yet on the rise—just an infant, at this stage. As a supporter of national cinema though, Dhuwani is one of those movies that teaches young filmmakers how not to make a movie and all the flaws in the movie—content, execution, plot, twists, dialogs, editing, and direction—would only serve as a Bible for the to-be filmmaker. For those wishing to spend their valuable time in quest of good cinema, Dhuwani hardly serves the purpose—avoid, avoid, and avoid, unless thy seek to have some unintentional comedy, or to torture those depressed by the pollution of Kathmandu!

Image Credit – Dhuwani Homepage

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