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Here’s Why You Should Watch ‘Ainaa Jhyal Ko Putali’, Nepal’s Oscar Submission For 2023

The past couple of months have seen a sudden surge of activity within Nepal’s arthouse cinema sector. Screenwriter Abinash Bikram Shah made an unprecedented history at the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Special Mention of the Jury for his short film Lori. This period also saw years-old art film projects finally come to the theaters in the form of the movie Dokh. At the same time, a number of other filmmakers also brought forth their own art film offerings to the audiences with films like Paani Photo and Radha. 

Just two days ago, the International Feature Film Selection Committee has also selected Nepal’s official entry into the Oscars this year. Ainaa Jhyal Ko Putali, directed by Sujit Bidari, was a film that took four years in the making, and was released just two weeks ago. But it hasn’t found as much popularity among audiences as other recent arthouse films, such as Radha and Prakash. 

This is probably due to the fact that Ainaa Jhyal Ko Putali has no big names attached to it. The movie was directed by a relatively unheard-of filmmaker, and features unknown talents, many of whom were scouted from rural regions of the country. OnlineKhabar reported that some of the leading actors hadn’t even seen a movie in their life during the filming. In other words, Ainaa Jhyal Ko Putali is a true art film — and it is an utterly brilliant one. 

According to director Sujit Bidari, Ainaa Jhyal Ko Putali is a movie about dreams. It is set a couple of decades into the past, during a time when media entertainment was had through rickety CRT televisions, CD copies of films, and issues of the Muna magazine. The film tells the story of two young siblings — Basanta, played by Dinesh Khatri, and Bidhya, a teenage girl whose biggest dream is to gain a good education. 

Ainaa Jhyal Ko Putali is a movie with no musical sequences and no over-the-top drama. It is quite simply devoid of all the elements you would find in a typical ‘masala’ type Nepali movie. But despite this, the movie hooks you into the emotional lives of its few characters from the very beginning. 

Nepalis don’t get too many period dramas from their filmmakers, and this movie isn’t quite ‘period’ — it is set just a few decades into the past. But the way Bidari manages to recreate the feel of that era will fill your heart up with a childhood nostalgia. You get the quippy dialogues about Sunil Shetty movies and Muna magazines. These little joys come to mean so much through the eyes of Bidari — they represent the joys of living, and the hope for a better life. 

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The movie also tells its story through the character of young Basanta. As a village child, he is fully aware of all the tragedies that are part of his family’s life. At the same time, though, he also carries a distinct sense of optimism. Colored with these lens, Jhyal Ko Putali evokes a deep sense of earnesty and childlike wonder through every scene. 

Imbued with these heartfelt emotions, the movie takes you through a heartwrenching series of incidents — heartwrenching not because of their tragic nature, but because of the overflowing love and dedication that the characters show towards each other. A major plot of the movie is how Bidhya’s mother, played by the veteran actress Siru Bista, saves money year after year to save up to fulfil her daughter’s dream of gaining an education.

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The movie is entirely composed of details such as these that come together to make a bittersweet work of art that is truly admirable. Ainaa Jhyal Ko Putali is a movie about the most important facts of life — in one moving tale, it manages to speak volumes about family, love, dreams, and the hardships of life. The movie can be considered an essential addition to the history of Nepali cinema — an essential watch by anyone even remotely interested in Nepali films.  

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