This is my first ever movie review. On November 22, 2014, I had a chance to see Nepali movie Jhola during a screening at the Nepali Sahitya Sanjh organized by a local Nepali organization in Madison, Wisconsin. The story writer of the movie, Krishna Dharabai, was also present during the event. He has also acted in the movie.
I had read the story Jhola before it was made as a movie. As a reader, I was not very impressed with the story; although I deeply appreciated the intent behind it. It shows forceful and brutal immolation of widowed woman on the husband's funeral pyre by a tradition called 'Sati'. The tradition was prevailing in Nepal until around hundred years ago. My thoughts at the time I read the story was that I wished the story was about some contemporary atrocities on women like torturing for being 'witches' or on-going oppression of women or rampant rape problems to name a few.
Different than the story, the movie at the end does make a connection between inhuman Sati tradition and on the going problems of today. However, I still wish that the story and the movie was about a contemporary shameful practice rather than abolished traditions like Sati or slavery that the mankind has overcome today. Keeping my wish behind, I am going to critic some things about movie itself.
Cinematography of the movie is strictly OK. I like the fact that the evening scenes of the movie have a dim lighting feeling as there was no electricity during that time in the kind of setting the movie was made. However, the day time scenes could have been more attractive visually; showcasing the natural beauty of the setting. Editing of the movie could be a little better as there were some transitions that showed poor editing. Great care was seen in making the clothes, utensils, and tools used. They match the timeline of the story. Screenplay was superb most of the time however there were some scenes that did not quite work as well as others. Like, falling of the stack of sticks after the news of the child artist's father died and the character of Laxmi Giri gasping for water after she found the Sati is alive work perfectly. However, the the scene when village women show pity on the main character's fate and a drop of water falling on a pond with ripples does not connect very well.
Casting of characters is overall good. Child artist has done exceptionally well. I think the main character Garima Pant portrays her role very well. However, if I were a casting director, I would have looked for little rougher but innocent looking mountain beauty for the role. Laxmi Giri, the evil looking priest (casted well) and other character actors are excellent. Knowing the author beforehand, I felt like Krishna Dharabasi being in movie a little awkward, I would have casted someone else in his role.
I think making a movie out of the original story was very worthwhile. The screenplay and the visual stimulation add value to the overall intent. Great job by late Deepak Aalok on screenplay. Direction by Yadav Kumar Bhattarai is good. The movie is outstanding in the pool of existing Nepali movies. It clearly deserves to be an official entry into Oscars from Nepal. However, if we compare to technical excellence and overall quality of world cinema, the movie just barely meets the standards. The message is great but being about an outdated ritual it does not have a very effective blow. I will not be surprised if it does not make to the eight amongst the other 80 or so entry into the Oscars in the foreign film category. However, who knows what the jury of the Oscars think. :)
Original review at: http://merasabdaharu.blogspot.com/2014/11/jh ola- nepali-movie-review.html
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