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.