Nepal Minute - out of the ordinary


A French violinist, Pavel, who is in his sixties and has lost the will to live, comes to Kathmandu. He carries a backpack on his right shoulder and his most prized possession – a violin on his left. A myriad of taxi cab drivers offer their service to the sexagenarian. The car drives through a bustling city where life springs from every corner...

Children are playing in the streets here, there and all along, women wearing their traditional attire of sari and blouse are chatting with their neighbourhood vegetable sellers. At the far end of the city, a gigantic stupa stands tall- in a way dominated the city that sits on the lap of the Himalayas.

The following day, he passes through the Patan Durbar Square. He hears a melodious sound that comes from around one of the temples. A little boy looking 10 years or so plays against the setting sun. His fingers run through the neck of a strange little cousin of the violin from another time: The Sarangi.

The melody touches the heart of Pavel who standing up remains amazed. Pavel befriends the boy. Pavel shows a photo of Sagarmatha to the boy. The boy informs him that the place is close to his home. The film then moves ahead with the journey of these two. 

These are some of the scenes of the film Digbi to be directed by Alan Simon, a French director. Dibgi’s team is in search of the characters to feature in the film.

The director's plans

French violinist Pavel in KTM1656936025.JPG
French Director Simon at a press meet in Kathmandu, on Sunday, July 3, 2022. Photo: Sabitri Dhakal

The film shoot will begin from October keeping in view as the weather will be good then to shoot the films. “The locations will be around the tourist destinations in Kathmandu and in Everest regions,” said Simon, the film’s director. Simon is a French folk-rock musician and composer, best known, for his rock operas. 

The film will be about journey of two musicians – one who is depressed and has lost the will to live, and the other — filled with life and energy.

The film will be more of a musical one as this is a story of the musicians. “The two will be collaborating in producing music as they befriend each other,” said Simon.

Simon had directed his first feature film, O Genghis, in 2005. The film traces the odyssey of the last nomadic Mongol descendants of Gengis Khan. Simon is more interested in historical things and his interests are seen in his works. “History is finding your roots. It is important to know the roots. Until and unless one does not know his or her roots then you don’t know who you are,” he said.

In 2020, he did his second movie Monsieur Constant. “I came back to making movies after a very long time after my first movie. I was busy in opera and writing,” he said.

Simon had travelled to Nepal in 1982 as he was working as a photographer then. He was mesmerized by the beauty of the country. Since then he had always wanted to come back to the country and had wanted to work here.

Simon had always wanted to make a movie and shoot it in Nepal. “The beauty and architecture of the country has always attracted me. Dedication, friendliness, and respect in people are some other things that have attracted me to direct a movie in the Nepali context. Young people are extremely smart and are solid in technology. All these make me come here and direct a movie,” Simon said.

Simon feels that working in opera and directing has some differences. There are body movements, lights, sounds, and body languages one needs to work on in the operas along with dialogues and actions which is a live presentation. But in films, you at times need to take more than 50 takes for a single shot.

Why did he choose Nepal?

Simon who has written 300 songs and was performed by various singers feels that there are not many differences between a writer and a director. “In any piece of writing there is an introduction, middle and end and similar is there in the films. Either it is a love story or a tragedy, it has its elements similar to that of writing a song. One needs to have a flow in both the pieces of art,” he said.

Making films and shooting scenes here for movies have always been a benefit in terms of the tourism promotion of the country all across the world. “This feature film is an excellent story and benefits Nepali tourism alongside its unique and attractive script. This movie will help in tourism promotion for Nepal,” Simon said. 

Since his return in 2002 to Nepal, Simon had been planning to start a new filming project. Adding about the movie, Simon said, “Digbi is a universal film. It shows the greatness of Nepal in all its scared, human, and environmental dimensions. The public who will discover this film will also discover the heart of Nepal.”

“The meeting of a virtuoso classical violinist from the West, a man lost in the middle of questioning the meaning of his existence, and that of a little boy from the streets of Kathmandu I hope will be an interesting story for people”.

The film will be made in the French language and will be released in various countries as per the team.

Simon who is more into music and opera said that it takes time to make movies and also needs to have a great passion and have a clear vision for making movies.
The team however is yet to finalise characters in the roles. “We are in the process to finalise the actors,” said Simon. The film production team did not reveal anything about the film’s budget. 

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