Sex has always been a taboo subject in Nepali society, and the same cautious, conservative mindset has extended to our mainstream films. Kissing scenes, for instance, have become debated issues whenever filmmakers have chosen to include them in their films, so when
something like Chapali Height—centred blatantly around sexual psychology—makes its debut in theaters, it was bound to raise eyebrows. The promos were controversial in themselves, garnering the film plenty of attention before its release—both negative and positive—which ensured a huge opening at the box office. But despite the hype created by posters featuring scantily-clad actors locked in embrace, the film fails to make an impact on viewers, going nowhere from beginning to end and pulled down by an inherently weak script. If a film is defined by an engaging screenplay and convincing storyline, Chapali Height lacks both.
This isn’t really a thriller per se, although it has been promoted as such. In fact, Chapali Height irks in many ways. Right from the performances to the confusing screenplay, there is little in the film to recommend it. It starts out rather promisingly, with a catchy number by Sabin Rai, but eventually the weaknesses in content and the poor execution of scenes renders the efforts of filmmakers to offer an unconventional, unique experience rather pointless. Director Dpendra K Khanal had previously tried his hands at romance with The Yug Dekhi Yug Samma and at political drama with Dharma, but neither had clicked with audiences. And Chapali Height, his latest venture, doesn’t really showcase Khanal’s directorial skills to any extent.
This is essentially a story about three youths. Biny (Binita Baral) and Aamir (Amir Gautam) are a couple from Pokhara, who decide to elope and seek shelter at a friend’s home in a place called Chapali Height. The friend, Raj (Raj Ghimire), eventually becomes physically attracted to his friend’s girlfriend and things soon take a turn for the disturbing when he indulges in his fantasies. The concept could’ve been made a lot more exciting than it is, especially considering sexual thrillers are a novelty for Nepali audiences more used to typical onscreen masala romances. Unfortunately, attempts by filmmakers to offer insight into an unexplored world falls short of expectations.
If there was one thing Chapali Height could’ve done with more of, it would be editing. The film feels unnecessarily stretched at some points, which doesn’t really do much for the overall story. For instance, the film begins with a recurring dream that haunts Raj, but ultimately, there appears to be no connection between this sequence and the rest of the story. And the score is frequently misleading, in that it rises to a point where you sense something big is about to happen, but unfortunately nothing does.
What Chapali Height feels like, from a viewer’s perspective, is a film laden with vulgar bits, inessential nudity and offensive language that doesn’t really flow with the plot, but has been tagged on to qualify for an ‘adult’ certification. Plagued with stilted, artificial-sounding dialogues and wooden performances, this is one watch you probably wouldn’t mind missing.
Posted on: 2012-03-21 08:48