25 September 2008

Translator’s Society in Nepal

By Harsha Man Maharjan


Translation is a difficult task. Once I tried to translate George Orwell’s essay English Language and Politics for Mulyankan magazine. I had even informed this to the then editor of the magazine. I translated few paragraphs but it was not satisfactory. At last I quit that job.

So I am aware of difficulties of translators. On 21 September 2008 I participated in a meeting organized by Translator’s Society.

Translation is alluring job. Who wants not to be a translator, when the rate of translation is Rs. 500 per page? And there is demand of translation.

International Non Government Organizations, the UN bodies need translators. Federal set-up will demand more translation. That means it has future too.

At Yala Maya Kendra, there were people known for translation like Basanta Thapa, Manjushree Thapa and other. Many issues came during the meeting. I have noted some of them:

Translator’s Society should be legal entity.
This society should update list of translated books in Nepal especially literature.
Translator must seek permission from writers.
The society has to decide rate of translation.
It can organize training program on translation and proofreading.
It must standardize transliteration of Nepali words. It must work with copyeditors

24 September 2008

Don’t Resurrect Big Brother: Curbing Cyber Pornography in Nepal

By Harsha Man Maharjan


Big Brother is Watching You
George Orwell, 1984
Orwell wrote the novel 1984 in 1948. He was writing about future. It is a negative utopia. The big brother of the novel watches every activity of its people. And everyone has this knowledge. There is no hope for dissidence.

I think Nepali government is also trying to resurrect this big brother. It wants to monitor cyber café and is searching ways to stop access with pornography in internet.

Adult has right to access pornography. Yes, government must bring out the measure to curb access to pornography by children. It might corrupt children’s mind.

Nepali government strongly believes that pornography abets violence on women. But there is no concrete study to prove this. Oh yes, Himal Khabarpatrika reported that many actors have unknowingly act on Nepali blue films. And some of them were only for private purpose.

So government must work out on the policy related to x-rated film and material. The Government is only opting easy way. No doubt cyber pornography is a click far from access. Any body can access it. How to keep it away from children? Answer is difficult.

15 September 2008

What a Joke: Documentaries not Saleable in Nepali Television Channels

By Harsha Man Maharjan

Documentaries are thriving in Nepal. Moviegoers in festivals prove this. Yet documentaries get lest priority in Nepali television channels.

What is the problem? It has to do with imagery we have about documentaries.
They were boring and lifeless. It used to be on a festival or a place or a person. Nepali Television created this imagery.

Before NTV, Film division under Department of Information produced newsreels, documentaries and film. These newsreels and documentaries are about Panchayat politics, royal personalities or development. These were publicity materials. In 1971 Royal Nepal Motion Picture Corporation came into existence and did same job including others.

Kantipur Television added creativity -different camera angles and presentation through Vikalpa, a collection of documentaries.

Our imagery of documentary is changing due to film festivals and other international television channels. Film festivals provided exposure and access to different kinds of documentaries: King for a Day, War and Peace, Raam Ke Naam, No one Believes Professor. We now even have some nice documentaries like News Room Bahira, Team Nepal, A Rough Cut on the Life and Times of Lakchuman Magar, The Sprit doesn’t Come Anymore etc. News Room Bahira has personal touch that we never saw in documentaries of Nepal Television.

Every time I watch documentaries in Aljazeera TV , It reminds me what Nepali television channels lack. And I ask a question: why are they not showing documentaries? I got the answer in interaction programs at Martin Chautari. One of them is 11 September 2008 Martin Chautari Media Discussion series by Deepa Gautam and Tanka Upreti on documentaries of Nepal Television. Both of them told that Nepali TV owners are reluctant to pay for documentaries. These owners believe that documentaries are not saleable. I agree with Gautam and Upreti. They are not not saleable.

Yes, Kantipur TV has stopped Vikalpa. Now its old editions are fillers only.
Television channels need to find sponsor for it. I don’t think it is impossible. There is no other way.

The problem is with the content and presentation of documentaries. We must unlearn the conventional style. We must experiment.

10 September 2008

Names of Nepali Film: End of Imagination

By Harsha Man Maharjan

Irani films

Abbas Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry, The Wind will Carry Us
Majid Majidi’s Color of Paradise, Children of Heaven
Boman Ghobadi’s A Time of Drunken Horse, Turtles can Fly


Janayudha(People’s War)
Sano Sansar(Small World)
Taxi Driver

These are some names of Irani and Nepali films. What we see during comparison is that Irani film’s names are fresh and poetic. Their cinematography is poetic too. They are full of color.

Among six Irani films I have named here, I have seen all, except Ghobadi’s A Time of Drunken Horse. So what I am writing here is applicable to five films.

How miniscule is the plot of Taste of Cherry? It is story of a man, Mr. Bardi who is searching for a man who can bury him after he commits suicide. The director gives no importance to reasons of suicide. At last a taxidermist agrees to do what Mr. Badi ordered to do but we have inkling that Mr. Badi will regret to commit suicide. Actually the taxidermist himself once tried to commit suicide himself he dropped his plan after tasting cherry leaves.

Ditto is the plot of Turtles can Fly. This film is not about turtle as I wrote in previous posting. It is about children who have to shoulder burden as turtles do. It tells a tale of thirteen year boy, Satellite, the organizer of the cleaning minefields, whose life changes when he falls for a girl with her toddler and a disabled brother. Only girl and her bother know that the child is the result of the rape during war. The girl’s sad face speaks women’s plight during war. It is children and women who suffered the most in war.

Opposite to them, Nepali films have long plot and story. They cover stories of two generations or more. Basudev is the example of this. There are few exceptions like Mukundo.
But all of six Nepali films I named above all sound stale. They are lifeless. They lack spark. Their names are not poetic.

09 September 2008

Yes, Turtles can Fly

By Harsha Man Maharjan

Can Turtles fly ? If we ask this question to others. There answer will be no. Never.
But Iranian film maker, Boman Ghobadi thinks opposite to what others think. For him, turles can fly.

I have read a story of friendship between a turtle and two cranes. Here too the turtle travels in air. Two cranes help it. During a drought, the turtle makes a plan to move to another pond. According to the plan it will clutch a stick with its teeth and two cranes will carry the stick by their beaks. Everything was going well when, I think…a crow…gives credit to cranes for making this plan. The stupid turtle could not listen to praises and opens its mouth to tell truth. It falls and dies.

But Ghobadi shows how turtles can fly without others help in his film, Turtles can Fly. Turtles are only symbol here. This film is more about children then turtles. It is not about children if we say childhood is the happiest moment of life. We think children have no burden, no responsibility.

Turtles can Fly is about daily life of children in Kurdish refugee camp on the Iraqi-Turkish border. These children are innocent like turtles. But they have a huge burden as turtles have on their back too. Yet they need to fly. If they don’t fly, they will die. It is a harsh reality.

These children eke out a living through cleaning minefields. It is dangerous job but they lack option. Satellite, a thirteen year boy organizes this job. His life changes when he falls for Agrin, a girl who has migrated with her blind toddler and her brother. Only her brother and she know that the blind toddler is the result of rape during war. Her sad and mysterious face betrays this. At last she commits suicide.

So this film tells us how war affects children, girls and boy and how stigma remains with rape victims during war in their whole life.

I recommend all to watch this film. I think Nepali film makers can learn a lot from this film. It teaches us how even a film with small plot can tell harsh facts of life.

links for film and the director