Bollywood gives walkover to World Cup in Nepal

Kathmandu: Starting Saturday, Bollywood stars Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Ranaut will have to grapple with a deadly rival Nepal. Seeking to beat the lack of new Bollywood releases, the owner of Nepal`s biggest and most expensive cinemas is trying a different game - the World Cup.

Kathmandu`s Kumari cinema that has two auditoriums Saturday started screening World Cup matches live till the finals.

The Sri Lanka vs Australia match premiered on the big screen in one of the auditoriums from 2.45 p.m. Nepal time -- and will continue till 10 p.m.

The other hall in Kumari is screening director Vishal Bharadwaj`s dark comedy "7 Khoon Maaf" starring Priyanka Chopra. But it has failed to generate any enthusiasm in the Himalayan republic. Kangana Ranaut`s new release "Tanu weds Manu" would be screened in the morning, ahead of the matches.

"It`s a bad time for cinemas," says Nakim Uddin, the 47-year-old Nepali entrepreneur who owns Kumari, which finds mention in the Lonely Planet guide to Nepal.

"Due to school examinations and the World Cup, there are no new releases in Bollywood," he says.

The three multiplexes owned by Nakim Uddin - Kumari, Jai Nepal and the latest and biggest QFX Central - rarely screen Nepali movies, except for unusual ones like "Karmaa", a revenge tragedy marking Manisha Koirala`s return to the Nepali film industry after almost three decades.

"Cricket fans are growing in Nepal. However, few can watch the World Cup due to the power cuts," says Nakim Uddin.

Going through an acute power crisis due to its rivers drying up in winter, Nepal is currently living with four to seven hours of electricity during waking and working hours, making TV watching a luxury only the rich can afford.

"We thought it would be an entertaining experience for viewers, who can watch an entire match uninterrupted with friends," he says.

The tickets, however, are rather steep - NRS 500 per match - since each match is the equivalent of two films.

Depending on the response the new experiment gets, the match screening can be started in other cinemas as well, Nakim Uddin adds.