Kathmandu: Shanta Nepali is a filmmaker, journalist, adventurer, and travel photographer. One of the most famous names in the Nepali film industry, she is the founder of Shanta Nepali Production. She is one of the 20 international filmmakers and journalists to receive a fellowship from One World Media, UK. She has worked with Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman in the documentary ‘Living Embodiment of Hindu God | The Story of God’ as a Line Producer.
Shanta was also the Assistant Director of a popular reality show Himalaya Roadies, and the Director of ‘Jaat ko Prashna’- a talk show on caste-based discrimination hosted by popular actor Rajesh Hamal. She has given her talent to numerous other national and international projects.
Shanta talked with Nepal Live Today and shared her thoughts on different aspects of filmmaking and their connection to the ongoing pandemic.
Many say that our life is like the movies, and movies are like life. How do you perceive life and films?
Every human is different in their thoughts, background, and suffering. For me, life is a collection of experiences, and films are a reflection of it. It is also a medium to showcase all those experiences; this is how I find a connection between life and film. I see life and movies as two sides of the same coin.
We are going through a global pandemic. If you had to make a movie about this situation, what will your script be like? How would you portray the suffering?
I have a different way of presenting stories. Usually, I am interested in nonfiction scripts and documentaries. If I would get a chance to portray the current situation of this ongoing pandemic, I would probably first go with all the different experiences that I went through during the pandemic. If I share my experience, people might relate to it and connect with the stories. Similarly, another reason behind portraying my own experience is that I might not be much aware of others’ struggles, which can be a barrier to justify the script.
And, likewise, I would also present the disappointment and frustration of the whole nation created by the political instability. On the one hand, people are dying due to a lack of oxygen and medical supplies, and on the other hand, politicians are fighting for power.
Has this pandemic changed your perception toward life, death, and suffering?
This pandemic may have changed peoples’ perception of life, death, and suffering, but it’s not the same in my case. As a filmmaker, I have traveled to different parts of the world. During my journeys, I have endured many sufferings, and I have seen death closely several times. To shoot films, I have climbed mountains and been to many inaccessible places. As I have already surfed through different phases of life, death, and suffering, this pandemic did not change my perception towards them. But it has made me appreciate the life that I am living. I had been so busy with my work earlier that I did not have time to cherish my life and success, but now, due to the pandemic, I can do that.
Many people are depressed and are feeling hopeless because of this pandemic. Can we turn this mass frustration into hopes through art?
Art has the capability of turning desperation into hope. When someone focuses on creative work, they usually don’t have time to think about things that cause disturbances. Similarly, someone can even portray their frustration and other mental issues through various forms of art.
But on a serious note, the situation is getting significantly worse, and any form of art is unable to help those who require oxygen and ICU beds.
Is there any positive message or suggestions that you want to share?
At present, there is widespread negativity all around the world. But there are some measures to mitigate it. I suggest everyone limit their screen time and use social media platforms in moderation. Too much exposure to such platforms can create negative vibes. Give more time to family and creativity. And if there is a possibility, try helping those in need in this dire hour.