18 December 2008

Deepak Rauniyar’s Debut Film Threshold: Claims and Counter Claims

By Harsha Man Mahrajan

Decoding a text is always a subjective matter. So what I am going to write about Deepak Rauniyar’s debut film, Chaukaith (Threshold) might not be what you think about the film. This film won third prize in 6th Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival.

It has a simple story. Trisna, an enumerator of Census visits a woman living in a Tarai village. Her name is Saraswati Gupta but people know her by her village’s name. Not her own name.

Trishna’s visit enlarges Saraswati’s understanding of world. Trishna throws a stone in Saraswati’s calm and serene pound. And Saraswati’s life no more remains same as before.

In the beginning Saraswati feels uneasy with Trisna. She has no habit of speaking with strangers. But her hesitation gradually vanishes and they become good friends. And gradually Rauniyar unveils his characters. We come to know more about their lives.

Saraswati, a mother of two daughters has grudges: her early marriage discontinued her study. She was studying at ten class and due to her marriage she could not appear Schooling Leaving Certificate (SLC). Trishna requests Saraswati to restart her study. But Saraswati thinks her husband will oppose this. He scolds her even if Sarawati goes to market.

Saraswati has a son from a failed marriage. She asked for divorce when he barred her from working outside the home. Saraswati could hardly believe that due to the given reason a woman can leave the husband. She was putting up her husband for a long time. She never had courage to leave her husband.

Saraswati even sings on Trishna’s request. But her singing ends abruptly when her husband returns. He brings fingerchips for daughters and pani puri for Sarswati. Seeing his affection towards his wife, Trishna even becomes nostalgic. In evening she leaves Saraswati and sets for Kathmandu.

At bedroom, she leaves bed when he requests her to move towards him. We can say he wants fulfill his sexual desire. But Saraswati informs him that she is feeling tired. He repeats same demand. So she opens the door, passes the threshold, and goes to other room for sleeping. And the film ends.

As said earlier, people can interpret this film in different ways. Some might say it is old bikashe story which equates woman rights in leaving the husband. Marriage is more complex than the film has presented. For them this is no solution. They blame social norms and value not the husband. And for them, the husband is victim of society too.

Other might ask “Where is a ground for leaving the husband. The portrayal of the husband is far from complete. He is not evil enough to leave. The story lacks conflict between Saraswati and her husband. He cares her and being the wife he has rights to ask for sex.”

Some might even agree with Deepak. They might say: “The husband is not cruel one; he is the breadwinner. Yet he needs to appreciate her desires and aspirations. He has never done this.”

Other might agree with Deepak. Many things happen in a spur of a moment. At these moments we never think about the result. So Saraswati must have leaved the bedroom in the given situation.

What do you think?

Review of the film and photo source:


07 December 2008

Not Without/Without My Daughter: More than Culture Shock

By Harsha Man Maharjan

In Ellul’s book Propaganda, he thinks that more we consume media; more we become vulnerable to propaganda. Have I also become a victim of propaganda? Only readers can tell.

Today I am writing my feelings on Brian Gilbert’s film Not Without My Daughter. As its regular film show and discussion series Martin Chautari screened it on 4 December 2008. It is based on a true story about the struggle an American woman did to escape from Iran to America with her daughter leaving her brutal and abusive Iranian husband. This is film is only an American perspective.

Wanting to now more about the film, I googled. Then I came to know about its controversy and, reaction from Iranian people and the husband himself. According to IranMania.com, documentary Without My Daughter directed by Alexis Kouros and Kari Tervo, contains the husband, Bozorg Mahmoody’s views. This documentary is not available in Nepali market.
To IranMania.com, Alexis Kouros had said: the documentary "is about the relationship between a human being and the system or politics, in which the system or politics is the final winner. It shows how politics affect individual lives". Even Bozorg Mahmoody thinks himself “a victim of international politics and propaganda amid the animosity between Washington and Tehran”.

Not Without My Daughter has a simple story. An American woman Betty Mahmoody goes to Iran with her Iranian husband and their daughter for few days. He has assured her that they would return the USA. But he changes his mind and decides to stay in Iran forever. She shows dissatisfaction and the husband becomes more abusive and brutal. He lets his wife to visit the US not his daughter. So at last she succeeds to escape with their daughter from the husband.

We can see this film from few perspectives. If we analyze the film in feministic perspective, Betty Mahmoody has rights not to accept Islamic dress code and religion. But it sounds as if we are giving emphasis to individual rights. If we look through cultural perspective, both husband and wife are from different cultures: Iranian(communitarian) and American (Individualistic). And there socialization is different too.

From nationalistic perspective, Bozorg Mahmoody wants to serve his country and its people. He feels guilty for remaining in the US as a doctor when he is supposed to participate in Iranian revolution. And nation is more important than an individual.

There is a psychological reason too. In the US he feels inferiority complex. He knows that the American state and some Americans hate Iranians. He loses his job as a doctor. His only fault is he is an Iranian. So when he returns Iran he gains power and his wife feels powerless. He not only hopes that his wife will convert to a Muslim, he also becomes brutal. He flogs her publicly for not obeying his commands.

More about the film/documentary:

More about the controvery:

Photo source:

04 December 2008

Toll Free Phone Hangama in FM Radio Networks in Nepal: Call Us We will Pay for the Call

By Harsha Man Maharjan

Many Nepalese people outside of Kathmandu are voicing their views in national issues through talk programs like Nepal Chautari and Hamro Nepal Ramro Nepal of Ujjyalo 90 Network and Aab ko Nepal of Nepal FM Network. It is unprecedented in Nepali history.
And Nepal’s transitional phase needs more interaction and dialogue on many important issues. These FM programs are helping in this dialogue.

Main reason behind this is the caller has to pay nothing for the call. These networks pay for calls. They use toll free phone lines. Even the content of FM radio stations outside kathmandu is reaching these networks’ offices at Kathmandu through these toll free lines. These networks also use these lines to get suggestions and opinions of listners about other programs of networks too.

For me toll free line is new concept. I came to know about this kind of phone line from Nepal Chautari. Antenna Foundation Nepal publishes advertisement of Nepal Chautari highlighting this phone line. Even annual report 2007 of Nepal Telecom has mentioned that toll free service or Advance Freephone Service is becoming popular these days. According to the report its increased from 22 to 54 which are subscribed by money transfer business sector, man power/education consultancies, large business houses, banks, airlines, FM stations, media publications, social organizers etc.

More about Toll Free Lines:


About Nepal Chautari:

About Hamro Nepal Ramro Nepal: