Folded Hands And The Filmmaking Terrain: Interview with Mohan Rai (Director, Middle Way Films)

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Folded Hands And The Filmmaking Terrain: Interview with Mohan Rai (Director, Middle Way Films)


1) Please tell us about the meaning and inspiration behind your latest film "Anjali."

Anjali in Nepali means folded hands. I think Anjali is, through her folded hands, offering something to the world. She has dared to be what she is and live a life that she wants to and is right for her. In that sense, she has offered herself as an example of being true to oneself despite what society thinks. That way she is a role model for thousands of transgender people in Nepal.

A friend of mine inspired me to work on this issue. At first, I was a bit reluctant to start working. But as I started it got interesting. I thank him for showing the way.

2) Given the nature and themes of the Nepali Film Industry, what are some of the directorial successes you have experienced?

I think I have made some good documentary films on some of the timely issues in Nepali society. For example, I made “Sakhi,” which is about friendship and reconciliation in the context of the decade-long conflict which is still very much needed today. The documentary was screened at the International Human Rights Film Festival in Kathmandu and in the Toronto Nepali Film Festival in Canada. Or you could take example of “Anjali,” which is about rights, freedom and the dignity of transgender people who are still stigmatized in our society. That way I think I have contributed to the art but also to the discourse on some of the important themes in contemporary Nepal. For me, success is hard to define. I think I am on a path towards it but, again, it is hard to define and measure. I think the journey is more important than the destination. 

3) How has Middleway Films positioned itself in the current landscape of filmmaking and media management?

We make films on social themes that are important in and to Nepali society. And that's crucial. We also provide our expertise to produce and develop a range of audio-visual products for Social and Development organizations. These include films that show theimpact of the work of these organizations, their profile, videos for fundraising and also for education and awareness. Our team has a strong grounding on the medium of cinema but also on Development Communications. We lay stress on quality and perfection. I think those are our strengths as a film company. We have provided our expertise to many major Social and Development organizations in Nepal. However, we need to grow further.  

In addition, we are looking to go beyond documentaries and are planning a feature film late this year. This will open up new avenues for us even though the commercial filmmaking scenario in general is not very encouraging in Nepal.

4) What are some of your memorable experiences in filmmaking in Nepal?

Filmmaking has taken me to many corners of the country and has provided me with an opportunity to see and understand Nepali society and its diverse nature extensively. I have filmed in places ranging from Jhapa in the east to Mahakali in the west and interacted with many people throughout the country. I have seen their problems, witnessed their difficulties but also understood their dreams, hopes and their potential. I have found many ordinary people in distant villages who are working against all odds for the betterment of their community - people who are fighting discrimination, people who are working for the sake of the less privileged. It is very inspiring to meet and film them. All these are memorable experiences for me.

Filmmaking is difficult especially due to the terrain and weather. For example, we were walking on top of a hill on our way to Khatiwada VDC in Doti. It was winter and there was a very thick fog. We could not see the trail or our steps - the trail was quite difficult and narrow. There was no one to guide us and we were walking on the trail for the first time. It was quite difficult and risky as we could have slipped and fallen off. But we somehow managed.

5) As a multimedia platform, how do you think S4G can realize its goal and become a 'go-to' platform for social and development issues as well as the social good ideal in Nepal?

This is not easy given the resource that is at our disposal and given that there are other alternatives for readers. Despite this, however, what S4G has achieved till now is impressive. I think we need more engagement and contributions from people who are working on social and development issues while at the same time we must take the initiative to expand readership. This will take time and there is no need to be discouraged.



Position: Writer

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