Monday, October 4, 2010

Chit Chat Saturday with Karishma Manadhar


She had no plans to become an actor, no ambitions. She always set her mind free and looked forward to all that came her way.
“Accidentally,” says the prominent actress Karishma Manandhar how she came to Nepali silver screen. But once she made the entry, she left behind all other actresses; and after giving superb performances in blockbusters like “Truck Driver”, “Manakamana”, “Allare”, “Ajambari Maya” and “Papi Manchhe”, she knew what she truly wanted to do – to become an actor. In no time, the lady with the seductive eyes, Manandhar awed audiences and became a sought-after face in Nepali films.

KarishmaAfter doing over a hundred films, she tried her hands in filmmaking. Manandhar did not want to follow the traditional way of making films in Nepal – “wrap it up within the budget of three million Rupees.” She dared to invest handsomely, expecting to give a new direction to Nepali filmmaking. Ironically, even after investing some eight million Rupees on “Babu Saheb”, the film tanked, driving the heroine to frustration. She wanted to say goodbye to Nepali films, and because she had invested the money together with her husband, producer Binod Manandhar, the commercial loss sparked misunderstandings in her married life, too. She left for America.
Finally, after three years in the States, one of Nepal’s leading heroines has come home. She is, in fact, making her comeback in director Dipak Shrestha’s upcoming film “Ho Yahi Maya Ho” wherein she plays the lead with Rajesh Hamal.
In an interview with Republica yesterday, Karishma explained why she left showbiz, talked about her priorities, and clarified the controversies that hit the papers in her absence, about big screen business in Nepal, and what next in her career.
Republica: Many thought you would never come back to the industry…
KM: Firstly, I never left the industry. It’s human nature that one’s mind gets diverted for sometime. The rebel inside me took me to the US. Now I’m over that phase.
Rumors had it that it was because of the commercial loss of “Babu Saheb” that made you leave the industry and settle abroad.
I can’t deny that. See, when you put your all on something and hope for the best, what happens to you when you don’t get anything in return? My husband and I invested a lot in the film. It was obvious for me to be frustrated.
In that case, do you blame the audience for not understanding your approach?
No, not at all. I must admit I’m to be blamed for all what happened. Maybe I couldn’t understand the market during that time.
You were already an established actor in Nepal before you left for America. Tell us about you stay there. What did you do there and how did Nepalis in the States respond to you?
In America, I was an ordinary human being. At times, I was a makeup person, the next I was a salesperson. It’s just work that matters in the end. I knew many Nepalis in the States who found it surprising to see me doing things. But I was prepared. Of course, I was nobody there. But that wasn’t a bad experience, either.

Most of the heroines that you worked with, like Jal Shah, Kristi Mainali, and Niruta Singh, are no more in this business. Does that make you to feel alone?
Look, what people don’t understand is irrespective of being professionals, we all have our personal lives, and at one point, we have to set our priorities in life. Kristi chose her children instead of her profession, and she’s a wonderful homemaker now. Jal Shah is also busy with her personal matters, and I suppose Niruta is doing the same. At one point, my priorities were different, too.
With new actors in demand now, does that bring you a fear for your comeback?
No. Honestly speaking, I’m looking forward to work with them. I’m keen on working with new directors as they may have better visions on making better films. The entry of new actors isn’t a big deal. However, the time has come to ask why the audiences still want to see Rajesh Hamal, Bhuwan KC and other old actors. This makes it transparent that the newcomers haven’t made much big difference to the industry. What I’ve seen is, the new actors are often in rush to do more films now. There’s no struggle. All that they look for is a break in a film, some five interviews in the local dailies, and their close-ups on a few television channels. But instant popularity isn’t lasting.
By the way, this is not my comeback. I’m starting from zero again.

Niruta Singh once said that it’s for 12 to 13 years that a hero and heroine can do lead roles. After that it’s time to play side roles.
I agree there’s a period for everything but not necessarily always. If it was so, why is Amitabh Bachchan still playing main characters, and why are Hari Bansha Acharya and Madan Krishna Shrestha still so popular? It’s just that filmmakers in Nepal haven’t understood the importance of character roles.
In these many years, what difference did you find in Nepal’s celluloid?
I don’t know many in the industry. Gone are the days when there used to be just a few films released in a year and they were successful. Now there are dozens. The quantity is up but the quality has gone down. But it’s good to see high-definition cameras being introduced though it’s sad we’re still following the 1990s marketing strategies.
Getting a little personal now, it was reported that your relationship with you husband was on the rocks and that was another reason why you didn’t want to come back.
Well…there are many ups and downs in one’s life. Yes, we misunderstood each other. In married life, it’s common to disagree. If you’re talking about physical relationship, yes, we sort of broke up but we always respected each others priorities. We’re still together and give each other space.

So what next in you career? Can we be sure that the rebel in you won’t make you quit again?
[Laughs] I can’t say right now. But it won’t be a permanent goodbye to Nepali cinema. Now that audiences want to see me, I’ll be doing more films, music videos and documentaries.
Source: Republica

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