Kathmandu: The more Nepali director Dev Kumar Shrestha read in the papers about fatal road accidents at Krishna Bheer - a cliff west of Kathmandu that was once prone to the worst landslides - the more he became convinced there was more to it than met the eye. His new film 'Ek Din, Ek Raat' puts the spotlight on the mystery.
"It`s not just bad roads or bad drivers that cause an accident," the 38-year-old director told reporters.
"There are some spots that are more prone to crashes than others. And I feel there`s some negative influence at work at that place that triggers the accident. Otherwise, how do you account for the fact that smashes at Krishna Bheer went down after a temple was built there?"
The thought of some malignant, supernatural force at work forms the plot of 'Ek Din, Ek Raat'.
To be released on Christmas eve, 'Ek Din, Ek Raat' is also the second Nepali film on the supernatural, finally taking forward the genre in Nepal after a late start.
The first Nepali supernatural was made in 2008 when television presenter Bhushan Dahal wowed the audience with 'Kagbeni', an adaptation of the acclaimed 1902 horror story 'The Monkey`s Paw' by British author W.W. Jacob.
Though veteran film director Tulsi Ghimire planned a teleserial based on the supernatural, it didn`t create a stir and for several years the genre lay forgotten in Nepal.
Ironically, while Nepali directors avoided the subject, Nepal was projected as the background for two supernatural films made by foreign directors.
As early as 1986, Hong Kong-based film director Tony Ching made "Witch From Nepal", the tale of a man who goes to the country with his girlfriend on a holiday and is bewitched by a Nepali woman.
Then after a long gap came the second film, 'Bokshu: The Myth', in 2002, directed by Indian film director Shyamaprasad with the cast including Irrfan Khan, Nandana Sen and Steven Berkoff.
"It`s the story of an American girl`s search for her missing father," composer Louis Bank, who had done the score for the film, told reporters during his visit to Nepal.
"The Bokshu is a witch and the locale is the Himalayan foothills. However, the actual shooting was not done in Nepal."
Shrestha says Nepali films revolve around commercial formulas since directors are not ready to take a risk. "But I thought it was time I tried something new. This is my seventh film and I plan to do new things from now on," he said.
Besides attempting an unexplored genre, Shrestha has also taken a calculated risk by eschewing mainstream actors and instead opting for theatre actors, much as Dahal had done in 'Kagbeni'.
"The story didn`t need stars," he says. "It needed actors and my cast comprises powerful, natural actors."
It includes theatre artiste Anup Baral, known as the "Irfan Khan" of Nepal and Dia Maskey, the dusky beauty whose debut in "Kagbeni" created a sensation, especially due to a few sizzling sequences, like the one in which she locked lips with the hero, introducing the first onscreen kiss in Nepali cinema.
Shrestha says 'Ek Din, Ek Raat' doesn`t have 'hot scenes' as such. It doesn`t even have the normal song and dance sequences.
The USP is the original storyline that he hopes will keep the audience mesmerised, a cast of actors who have already created a stir, and the innovative use of technology to market his film among the IT-savvy younger generations of cinegoers.
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