`Ram Teri Ganga Maili’ last Bollywood screening in Nepal palace

February 27th, 2009 - 5:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Feb 27 (IANS) It was on a grim Friday eight years ago that Nepal’s best loved king Birendra was gunned down along with his queen Aishwarya and eight more family members in the tightly guarded Narayanhity royal palace in a midnight massacre that led to the eventual end of monarchy.

This Friday, after a sea change that transformed the world’s only Hindu kingdom into a secular federal republic ruled by its former Maoist guerrillas, the pink pagoda palace opened to public as a national museum.

However, while the dismal place where the horrific killings took place has been opened to public for the first time in the history of Nepal, the spectacular snake throne, diamond and gem-studded crown and sceptre and other valuables are still not ready for viewing.

Of the 54 stately salons in the palace, only 19 are ready for visitors.

The crown, known as the Shripench in Nepal and distinctive because of the bird of paradise plume descending from the apex, is under tight guard in a sealed room that was once meant to be the room where the last king Gyanendra was to have his hair cut and styled by the royal barber.

A hall that would be of special interest for the Indian tourist, who form the bulk of visitors to Nepal, is also yet not ready for public viewing.

It is the grand theatre that can seat 100 people where the former royal family used to gather for watching films, mostly from Bollywood.

The theatre fell into disuse after the advent of television. Old palace employees remember the 1985 hit Bollywood film “Ram Teri Ganga Maili” directed by Raj Kapoor to have been the last film that was screened in the royal theatre.

After the fortune of the Shah dynasty waned and King Gyanendra was punished by parliament for trying to rule the country with the curtailing of his powers and privileges, the theatre remained deserted.

However, the liking for Hindi films remained.

Three years ago, after monarchy had been suspended, Gyanendra’s eldest grandchild Purnika insisted that she be allowed to watch the 2006 Bollywood science fiction cum superhero film “Krish” along with her classmates in a public theatre.

She had her way and enjoyed the Hrithik Roshan-starrer while the rest of the family went to the palace - for a muted celebration of the king’s 59th birthday.

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