What was going on in your mind when you decided to write Kichkandi?
The idea of Kichkandi was floating around my mind for a while. What intrigued me was that, while so many people seem to have their own theories about the Kichkandi, very little has been written about her. I even consulted the professionals at the Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya archives (the largest repository of Nepali writing), and they only found some short stories that mentioned the Kichkandi, but nothing very specific. However, she is a part of our folklore; our collective consciousness. Stories about the Kichkandi have been passed down by word-of-mouth for generations, and it’s a privilege to be crafting our own rendition of her. Also, this kind of mythical spirit seems to appear in different forms around the world. For example, in Indonesia there’s a spirit called Sundel Bolong, who is said to wait by dark roadsides to terrorize men who walk alone. Sounds very similar to stories we’ve heard in Kathmandu, no?
What kind of film is Kichkandi, and do you think there is a future for this genre in the industry?
Kichkandi is a short, supernatural horror-thriller film. One of our main goals is to garner interest in the feature version of Kichkandi by showcasing this short as a proof of concept, as was done, for example, with the film Whiplash a few years ago. To answer your question in a roundabout way, I think there’s a future for any genre, as long as the story is strong. We, as humans, are all storytellers, and the Kichkandi is in a way a story that has been written by many different people over the generations in the mid-hills of Nepal. I think that means there’s a future for a film based on this character and many others.
As a filmmaker, I also want to add that, sometimes the story chooses the genre. While pursuing my Masters in Filmmaking at the University of Southern California for the last few years, I’ve been bombarded by news about predators like Harvey Weinstein. And, without giving too much away about the film, that inspired me to push Kichkandi into the realm of the horror genre.
What makes a film great for you? What factor you consider the most while making a horror movie?
What makes a film great? Truly great?
Great story, great actors, great storytellers, collaboration, and a pinch of magic-luck masala that is very rare to find! From your screenwriter to your editor to your VFX artist—and everyone in between—the stronger each storyteller, the stronger the film. Recipe: take an amazing crew, combine with great actors that suit the roles, and match it with a stellar concept (which could be anything from simple to epic in proportion), and you may have a great film on your hands.
Do you think there is enough curiosity about Kichkandi?
I’m not sure. I’ve just been focused on making the film for now. We plan to send it to festivals throughout next year, so at that point, maybe curiosity will increase. We definitely had some spikes in curiosity when our very own Priyanka Karki was gracious enough to lend her talent to the film. It was wonderful to be in the town of Lone Pine (where so many films throughout Hollywood history have been shot) and to see the top Nepali actress of our generation standing where Robert Downey Jr. stood in the “Jericho Missile” shot in Iron Man.
What kind of response do you expect for Kichkandi?
We are hoping to thrill and entertain audiences, of course. I think that the amount of hard work each member of this team is putting into it means it will make it something new and refreshing for Nepali audiences. Horror may have certain negative connotations in certain sections of Kathmandu society, but I can tell you that it is a rich genre for the filmmakers practicing their craft. It really pushes filmmakers furthest in terms of sound design, music, and the amount of VFX work involved. I believe that the hard work of our team, and the dedication put in by every member, will mean that audiences who like horror will enjoy it. Audiences who are predisposed to not liking horror films, I believe, will appreciate the crafting of the film, and of course, I cannot wait to see the response to the truly talented Nepali and American cast we have in Kichkandi.
Do you believe in spirits?
I’ve been known to believe in a whiskey on the rocks once in a while. ;)
What if you encounter a ghost someday?
I’d say, “Oh, hey! It’s Halloween already?”
When and where is your movie releasing, and in which language?
Kichkandi will be completed in early 2018, and we have some interest in the industry. One thing to remember is that this is short-form content; the final film will be about 15 minutes in length and is mostly in English, but there will be subtitles as required. We are targeting festivals and digital distribution as channels of release.
What is your movie all about?
If I told you that, then the Kichkandi would have to kill me.
What are your future projects?
My film career has been focused a lot on drama until recently. Kichkandi is kind of breaking-the-mold for me, and I’m ready now to work in many different forms and genres. I’m looking to pursue short-form comedy while I’m here in Los Angeles, and I also have a couple of features in development. I’m excited to come back to Nepal soon and work in the industry there. The feature version of Kichkandi may be the one that brings me over. It really excites me to hear news of films doing well, and how TV comedic talent has now shifted to the big screen with films like Chakka Panja. It almost feels like the time when the film Loot brought theater actors like Dayahang Rai and Saugat Malla to the big screen. The Nepali film industry has now tied its roots to theater and TV, making it much richer in what it has to offer. I am extremely excited about the future of the Nepali film industry, which excites me about my own future, as well.