‘Slumdog Millionaire’ dashes Nepal director’s hope

March 1st, 2009 - 2:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Slumdog MillionaireKathmandu, March 1 (IANS) This year’s wonder film “Slumdog Millionaire”, which won eight Oscars and reopened the world’s eyes to the talent blooming in Bollywood, has however come as a blow to someone in Nepal.

A filmmaker from the region has had to put off his upcoming project for fear of unfair comparisons to the rags-to-riches story.

“It came as a shock to me,” says Nepali director Ravi Arryal, whose new release “Swikar” (Acceptance) is creating ripples in the Himalayan republic for its realistic treatment.

The overwhelming success of “Slumdog Millionaire”, the engrossing tale about a young boy who overcomes poverty and danger to win a reality TV show and his lost love as well, has forced Arryal to shelve his upcoming film, which bears an eerie resemblance to the smash hit by British filmmaker Danny Boyle.

“I was putting finishing touches to my new script,” 40-year-old Arryal says ruefully. “It is about two village children, whose mother dies and whose father abandons them to go to the Gulf, like so many Nepali workers do every year.

“The story of how the brother and sister survive on the streets will now have to be canned because it looks like an echo of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.”

Arryal’s recent film “Swikar”, a tale about marriage between two communities - one of which is regarded as untouchable, is receiving rave reviews in Nepal due to the absence of the formula song and dance and fight sequences that drive most commercial Nepali films and its close resemblance to life in Nepal.

The Nepali director, whose debut film “Purnima” six years ago also had a child protagonist, was seeking to start work on the tale of two street children when by chance, he showed his script to a European friend.

“My friend gave it back to me saying, ‘Have you seen ‘Slumdog Millionaire’? Your story is just like it’,” Arryal says.

The stupefied director then went to watch the film for himself and came back shell-shocked.

“Even my opening scene is similar,” he says. “It starts with police chasing the children.”

Now Arryal has decided to can the story till the furore and applause over Danny Boyle’s film dies down.

“I will think of taking up my script may be a couple of years later when the memory of the film has faded and there won’t be comparisons,” he says. “But meanwhile, I am happy at the success of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.”

In the 1990s, Arryal lived in India’s film city Mumbai for two years when he worked as an assistant to Bollywood directors, learning the ropes.

“‘Slumdog Millionaire’ has brought out the plus point of Mumbai,” he says. “Portraying stark reality and yet sending out a message of hope.”

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