‘Acharya’ is not just a movie that covers the glorious musical career of one of the most acclaimed veteran singers, composers and songwriters of Nepal. It is a tribute to a singer who recorded more than 450 songs in 16 years and a compelling personal story of a passionate music lover who defied all odds to achieve a dream that ended tragically, in such a short period of time. Produced under the banner of Silk Route Pictures, ‘Acharya’ is a biopic based on the life and struggles of Bhajan Siromadi Bhakta Raj Acharya.
The Biopic has succeeded to set a definitive landmark in the scenario of Nepali movies that has seen some varied examples and a few different dimensions of movie making lately. Directed by Prashant Rasaily, assistant director of the Hindi movie ‘Kites’ and screenwriter of ‘Kagbeni’,’Acharya’ has received considerable acclaim and was screened at the 13th Mumbai Film Festival. The movie stars Satya Raj Acharya (son of the acclaimed musician) who plays the role of his father.
The biopic begins with a journalist (Sunil pokhrel) interviewing Bhakta Raj Acharya after he is admitted to hospital following cancer of the tongue. Bhakta Raj Acharya then unfolds his story to the journalist in front of his wife and two sons. It is from then on that the biopic fulfills its purpose of allowing one to find out a lot about a man whose life certainly gave people reason to reflect on the meaning of life.
Bhakta Raj Acharya’s musical journey began with him singing old Hindi songs and gazals under the guidance of an Indian performer in the small tea estate of Dooars, India after his family migrated from Dhankuta, Nepal. Following his father’s death, financial struggles and determined to sing for Radio Nepal, Acharya set off on a journey to Kathmandu and thus, was on his way to seeing his dreams come true. Acharya went on to win the Rastriya Geet Sammelan in 1973.
Sadly, life had only started giving him what he truly deserved when an unfortunate incident involving some drunks (led by Saugat Malla in the movie) and a beating changed his life. This was in fact only a catalyst for an even more tragic event – the amputation of Acharya’s most prized possession (his tongue). The turning point is poignant emotionally and adds a compelling despondency to the whole film.
Throughout the film one has the sense that it was in fact destiny that cut short a brilliant musical career and also stopped some fine music from being composed there after. This further causes one to contemplate whether it may have been fate that decreed such a heart- rending tale and that too, one that prompts the viewer to question whether Acharya was one of the luckiest or the most unfortunate humans born to this world. It may be the distinctive irony of the story that causes one to really ponder the very question of man’s existence and karma giving the movie noteworthy leverage.
As for the actual construction of the film, the music is without doubt excellent, but fails to adapt to the plot in some scenes. Some lengthy establishing shots could have been shortened, and some other additional instances in the life of the protagonist instead, would have added significance. Also, in my opinion the intense post-amputation scene would have had a more profound impact on the audience if it had been shot for longer and wasn’t censored. Furthermore, the authenticity of some scenes is questionable. But that said, it is just like those small dots on the moon that you see on a clear night and don’t know much about ‘If you want to know more about Bhakta Raj Acharya’s life, the film will clarify certain aspects yet leave you room to question.
As for the acting, Satya Raj Acharya is the highlight of the film. Although he may not be an acclaimed actor in Kollywood, he has proved himself truly worthy and has very much justified the character of his father. There are also cameo appearances by Legendary Gazal Maestro Ghulam Ali and a special appearance by the protagonist himself Bhakta Raj Acharya. To me, it is one of the best tributes a son can give to a father and a musician to his guru and inspiration. Overall, it was definitely worth the watch.