Rajan Kathet is a young nepalese writer and director who visited the Asian Summer Film Festival with his feature film debut, Serdhak, The Golden Hill, a love story set against the rugged mountainscapes of Mustang. A low budget film with non professional actors about the permanent conflict between living in the city and the countryside who achieve amazing technical and acting results. Discreet and reserved, Rajan looks also self-confident and we are convinced that we will hear from him soon.
Hello and thanks to attend us. This is your first film. We enjoyed, it’s really cool…
Thank you. We didn’t have any hopes. We just wanted to make a small film. I’ve made some short films not very serious, just for practicing. Even this film was made just for practicing. For the whole team it was just a film for practicing, we didn’t thought it could be in a film festival.
In the movie you show how these people live in those villages. You are from Nepal, but have you lived in these kind of villages?
Well, to begin with, this village is a community where they speak tibetan, and I only speak Nepalese, so I don’t understand the language used in my own film.
There was one of the guys on the village who helped me as a translator…
So why did you choose this village?
My Director of Photography is not from Nepal but he’s living in Nepal and he always wanted to make a film in this village. So we looked for a guy who could have some story, in a sort of a provisional script, and we found the guy. We found one who dreamed to be a writer, and actually he’s the main lead of the film. He wants to be a writer, he wants to be the good guy in the villages… He just wrote, like in five or six days, the entire script. It was not a public script, so we just went to the village one evening, we would read the script, and the next day we went there to shoot. When in the village we visited around the locations where we would create the scene, and we discussed details in the evening, and the next day we went there and we shot.
So each day was like shooting a short film?
Yes, you didn’t knew what could happen… Also because they are villagers, not actors, so we could not really demand a lot from them.
Yes, your film is a fiction movie but it also looks like a documentary, since you show people that look really real in what they do…
Because they are real villagers. None of them are actors. Everyone who is in the film is from a village.
Is it the same village?
The same village. All the people are from the same village.
So they know each other?
Of course. It’s a very small village.
And they acted really natural…
Yeah, because we didn’t train them. We just choose the people who will not be ‘camera shy’, if they are not afraid of the camera maybe we could work with them. We didn’t have many time so we just did that.
How long does it took to shoot your film?
Seventeen? It may seem a long shooting for an average film…
That’s a good remark because the place where we were shooting the film it’s very windy during the day…
That’s really difficult for sound recording. Watching the movie we talked about that, because despite of the wind you can hear the actors properly…
Exactly. That’s because we were shooting from morning until ten-eleven, then in the afternoon, like after two or three… Just to avoid winds. We shot during October-November. That means no rainy weather, because is no rainy season. We knew we wanted to shot in October and November, when there is no rain.
Congratulations with the final sound, then. We can hear all the sounds properly, and the actors talking perfectly. Did you have to dub any dialogue in postproduction?
No, because the people in the film are very far from the capital, so what they did was listening the sound guy and his advices.
That’s amazing. Technically speaking is very difficult.
Because we didn’t have any money. The guy who did sound, did also costumes and makeup, or art direction…
How many people were involved in the movie?
From the capital only five people went to the village, and in the village we hired one guy to assist us. So we were like six-seven in the crew.
All shots are in Nepal, in the mountains or …?
We took our cameras and everything… But we had very minimal, basic camera and equipment.
But it doesn’t look like a low budget film.
That’s maybe because with the same team we made a few short films for practice, so we realized that we could do something with this team and with this number of people. Yeah, it’s a small number of people, but that’s how we manage.
And regarding the light and the cinematography?
All the light is a natural color. It’s a natural light. We didn’t use any other light, except when we shot indoor scenes. Then we used sometimes these small led lights, but everything is natural.
For example, what about the scene where the two lead actors are blowing a fire in the night?
We tried for three times that shooting, because we needed natural light in the night and we needed to finish it soon, because it was very cold. So the first two times it was cancelled, and the third time we went in the evening time and we could do it.
Also in the film we see people doing little mountains of rocks, balancing the rocks. That is a sort of game, there?
It’s a game but also the shape of this stones is like the shape of the monasteries. On the top of the villages people always make these kind of monuments, like a cultural thing.
We really enjoyed the film. It was unexpected because it was the first Nepalese film for a large part of the audience attending.
Also for me that culture is not very familiar to me, because it’s very far from the capital, in the mountains. I’ve only been two times there so, for me, it was very new, kind of an adventure.
Has this film give you strength to start another movie?
Actually I am working in short film, and then I will do a long film again, but for a long film I would need two or three years because I want to make a serious film. I will write the script myself.
Do you have the idea?
Yeah, I am more into stories about the psychology of the villagers. I am writing a script based on a very true event that I have witnessed with my own eyes in my village. It was a three days incident. It will be a social drama involving the robbery of a cellphone from a small girl who blames her neighbor. The phone will be just an element, and through it I want to enter into the socio-economic psychology of the people.
Will it be shot in Nepal?
Yeah, it will be shot in Nepal, in a proper village.
Thank you, It’s been a pleasure. We wish to meet you again! Next year, perhaps?
Thank you. It was really nice to meet you, I really liked this place, but next year I will only have a short film. After that I will go for a long one. I hope to see you then, thanks.