KATHMANDU: Binod Bista, the director of the film based on the book “Jeevan Kada Ki Phool” (Is Life a Thorn or a Flower) is excited, yet perplexed since the movie is hitting the theaters on Friday.
The autobiography written by Jhamak Kumari Ghimire, a renowned writer, has inspired many disabled to lead their life further.
She is Nepal’s one of the most eminent poets – often cogitated as Nepal’s Helen Keller — who has been honored with several prestigious awards.
Director Bista reveals his ideas and the drudgery while making the film, which he says has been dedicated to Jhamak.
Although she was born with cerebral palsy, it never discouraged her resolve to read, write and author books despite not undergoing any formal education.
She can hear but cannot speak. She started learning the alphabets by listening to her sister.
Director Bista lives in the Indian state of Manipur. Before Jeevan Ki Kada, he had crafted his name as a director of “Prem Pratikshya’, ‘Sangram’ and ‘Ma Kasari Bhanu’.
So, how did the idea of making a film on Jhamak’s book spewed into his mind. “In fact, I was going through an article penned by Binda Subba about Jhamak Ghimire in a local newspaper called Himali Darpan,” says Bista elucidating further, “The article lucidly explained the writer Subba’s motive of visiting Jhamak Kumari at her house in Dhankuta after going through her autobiography.”
Bista continues, “Besides enthralling me, the article stimulated me to explore further about Jhamak Kumari and her autobiography.”
After going through the autobiography thrice, Bista talked about the plot of the book with one of his friends, who curiously queried him whether it was a story of a movie.
Then came the idea of making a film on Jhamak Kumari’s book into Bista’s mind. A perfect idea, indeed!
The first thing that Bista did was to meet Mukti Baral, the scriptwriter of the movie, and discussed on materializing his intention of making a film.
Bista could not rein in his enthusiasm to meet with people, including Narendra Sharma, who translated the book in English language in Ghantuk.
“I shared my idea of making the film with Narendra, who further spurred my enthusiasm,” explains Bista. He approached Dr. Govinda Raj Bhattarai, who introduced him with Hari Gautam, who then took them to Dhankuta to meet Jhamak Ghimire. “This was how the project started to materialize,” Bista told Khabarhub.
As per the agreement, Jhamak Kumari had to endorse the script of the film. After Mukti Baral completed the first draft, Jhamak Kumari made some amendments in it. “It took nearly eight months to finalize the script,” says Bista.
Therefore, the film enunciates Jhamak Kumari’s life, no exaggeration!
“This could be the first movie that the script has been finalized by the legend herself,” he states.
Selection of Artists
Even though the script was finalized in 2012, the project kick-started only in 2016 due to certain circumstances.
The major challenge, according to Bista, was to craft the film in such a way that it judiciously depicted two parts of Jhamak Kumari’s life — one between 6 -14 years and the next part 14 years and above.
The real challenge and struggle of her life begins in the first part. Therefore, the challenge was to find a child artist who could perform the role of Jhamak Kumari’s childhood days.
“People suggested us to get a differently-abled child. I was equally determined that a child who had the dancing skilled and flexibility in her body could perform the role of a child,” explains Bista.
The production team, including Bista, production manager Prakash Hamal, Dinesh Prakash Mahara, and cameraperson Shiva Dhakal started ‘hunting’ for artists in different schools of Kathmandu, which, however, went in vain.
Finally, it was because of Junu Gautam, playback singer of the movie, proposed the name of a girl for the film. They (Mahesh Thapa and Bista) went to Siliguri, India to find a girl named Awasta Thapa, who was selected to play the role of Jhamak’s childhood days.
After a rigorous training of six months, Awasta seemed total confident for the role, and even started to imitate Jamak Ghimire.
Meanwhile, Rojita Buddhacharya has performed the adult version of Jhamak Ghimire. Bista had a doubt whether Buddhacharya would agree to cut her long hair. However, she ‘sacrificed’ her beautiful hair to be Jhamak Ghimire in the movie.
Here’s an interesting moment to note. At midnight, he received a call from Rojita asking him how to open a pen’s cap with her left foot – a Herculean task for her. Startled Bista responded that he would go to Jhamak, shoot a video and send it to her. However, Rojita did not give up and succeeded in doing so the same night. “Rojita’s efforts impressed me a lot,” quips Bista saying Rojita brushed aside all skepticism that she would be able to do the role.
Similarly, Swikriti Sharma (as the child artist), and Sarika Ghimire (adult artist) were chosen to perform the role of Jhamak’s sisters.
Other artistes included Kishan Sunar as Jhamak’s father, Uma Giri as mother, Menuka Pradhan as grandmother including others.
No commercial elements
The crew was bound with the agreement as prescribed. Therefore, the film has been made sans any commercial elements. “The film has no exaggeration, no commercial contents, no romantic songs…it’s truly the life of Jhamak Kumari,” Bista informs.
We have included a song after she wrote the letter ‘Ka’. Catching that note, Prakash Siwakoti, lyricist and musician, composed a lengthy song, which has been split into three songs.
The shooting has been done within fixed boundaries — inside the room, veranda, and fields only despite challenges of recurring scenes, which might seem monotonous to the audience.
Jhakam’s house, where she spent her childhood days, was demolished by the devastating 2015 earthquake. Therefore, the production team had to construct a house at the cost of Rs 5 lakh in the same place at the exact location where her house was located.
After the film was completed, Director Bista met people of the film fraternity and distributors to release the film. He was taken aback when many of them asked who Jhamak Kumari was. “I was, in fact, shocked by the way they seemed to be unacquainted with Jhamak Kumari and her autobiography,” Bista laments.
This has, however, become the trend as majority of the people are running behind stars and romantic movies, not odd-films like ‘Jeevan Kada ki Phool’. Later, Sriram Balaji Telefilm’s proprietor Sunil Manadhar showed his readiness to release the movie.
Last but not the least
The inspirational and motivational movie, as Bista claims, is for all the age groups.
He argues that the film needs to be documented as Jhamak’s struggle. He adds, “This, in fact, is not a film, but a history that needs to be watched and understood by the future generations.”
Jhamak Kumari, too, is cast in the movie. “You can see Jhamak receiving the Madan Puraskar,” says Bista. The movie, therefore, is made not for money, it is dossier too, he concludes.