Bikrant Shrestha

Established in the mid 2008, Silence Entertainment has already put its mark in the Nepali local scene. Organizing their yearly ‘€œSilence Festival’€ the event has become popular among the youths of our country. The second edition of the event will take place on October 15 at the Jawalakhel Football ground. By opening up our scene to bands like Vader, Silence Entertainment has revolutionized the local scene today. We got a chance to take a brief interview with the founder/owner of ‘€œSilence Entertainment’€, Mr. Bikrant Shrestha.

How and when did the idea of establishing ‘€œSilence Entertainment’€ come to your mind?

Actually, Silence entertainment came to my mind around 2005, when I was still in Europe and was involved in a band. As being around in a musical scenario, I met lots of musicians and people in music business, who helped me in establishing our silence entertainment. My vision was and still is to improvise something different in the entertainment sector. SILENCE, which visualizes on maximum creativity, has come a long way to describe the virtue of entertainment in a whole different aspect.

How is it doing?

So far so good.

How is the response of the people it is directed at?

The response so far has been very good. You will see the difference in couple of years. Everything takes time and every good thing happens over time not overnight.

Why did you choose to invest so much in this field?

We haven’€™t invested so much in this field. What we have done is, analyzed and prepared a long term investment in order to bring the best performances all the way.

How has silence entertainment managed to get hold of bands like Vader, for the Silence Festival?

There are lots of band in hold of Silence Entertainment. We have many international bands that we hold on as an official booking agent for the Asian region. We are glad that we have Vader this year playing at the festival. Helmut from Switzerland, Innerguilt from Lebanon and mighty GUIDO WYSS.

How significant is the Silence festival for the local scene?          

Very significant. We are trying to bring the best of the both world by bringing local and international bands together in the same stage at the same day, which I believe has never happened before. Every good local bands will get the opportunity to play at the festival. We only promote original bands and no cover. So, yes, get ready for the next year’€™s Silence Festival. I want more bands to come on the stage.

Tell us a little bit about ‘€œTone Music Store’€.

TONE MUSIC STORE- one of a kind music store in Nepal, bringing only the good and affordable instruments. We not only sell instruments but also conduct workshops, clinics and lots of different musical sessions. One of the great Swedish guitar players ‘€“ Mattias Eklundh, is coming here this 31st October at Tone music store to demonstrate his way of playing. We are also the official agent for LANEY Amplification that Silence Entertainment has recently launched in Nepal.

Do you have any plans of expansion?

Yeah, there are lots of plans of expansion. We will let you know when time comes.

You’€™re engaged in a band called ‘€œUnderside’€, tell us a little bit about the band.

UNDERSIDE is a modern Rock N’€™ Roll metal band with complete originality and completely crazy. We are playing at the silence festival this year, so stay tuned. We will also soon be releasing our EP and we will probably be playing at the festival ‘€œBoulevard des jeunes’€ in Morocco next year and probably couple of dates in Europe. We have a facebook page where you get the other information about the band.

What are your future plans?

There are many but not to reveal, yet (Laughs)

Is there anything you would like to say at the end?

No yesterdays are ever wasted for those who give themselves today. One day at a time.

 

Telling Stories : Kesang Tseten

Film Southasia is an organization which has been supporting and showcasing Southasian documentaries since 1997. The Film Southasia festival is held every two years where the best documentaries of the region are screened. The eighth edition of the fest is to be held from 29th September to 2nd October 2011, here in Kathmandu. ‘€˜Saving Dolma’€™ a documentary from Kesang Tseten is one of the 36 films participating in this year’€™s festival.

Kesang Tseten is a filmmaker based in Kathmandu and has been making documentaries for more than a decade now. The award winning writer and director has made documentaries like Saving Dolma, We Homes Chaps, In Search of the Riyal, We Corner People, Lepchas of Sikkim, Listen to the Wind, Frames of War and Machhendranath.

 

We Homes Chaps was featured in Film Southasia’€™2001 and now ‘€˜Saving Dolma’€™ is     participating in Film Southasia’€™ 2011. As a nonfictional filmmaker what sort of challenges did you face over the last decade in this genre of filmmaking?

Kesang Tseten: So were, ‘€˜In Search of the Riyal’€™ and ‘€˜We Corner People’€™.  The biggest challenge is the filmmaking itself: how to find the right treatment for the particular subject that means knowing what and how to film, and how to edit, in the shaping of a film. The subject is different each time, with its own discussion, your own understanding and feelings about it, so how to find the film, to tell the story, is the challenge that returns each time.

Do you think that Film Southasia has succeeded in popularizing documentaries in our region?

Kesang Tseten: Definitely.  Both Film SouthAsia and Kimff, both spawned by Himal Association, as well as other smaller festivals have been significant and instrumental, in expanding the audience and taste for documentaries

Your films ‘€˜In Search of the Riyal’€™ and Saving Dolma’€™ tells the stories of migrant workers in the Gulf.  Explain their influence upon you.

Kesang Tseten:  It is basically a David and Goliath story, where people ‘€“ and poor people ‘€“ go to the richer powerful country; they both need each other, but the rich one can play off the poor more than the other way around.   However, it is more complex as there are many shades of good guys and many shades of bad guys.  We can’€™t demonize ‘€˜them’€™, the Arabs, or whatever, as a lot of problems are rooted here itself, caused by manpower agents, government policies, the wages here, one’€™s own people or even relatives.  Many have a hand, and so it is a challenge to show these realities accurately.  How to show these and not distort or misrepresent or be unfair to anyone; how not to be simplistic: So I’€™m influenced by peoples’€™ stories and experiences that point to a web of complexities that pervade the phenomenon of migrant workers. I guess empathy for these common people is the constant feeling while making these films.

What was the biggest challenge that you faced while making ‘€˜Saving Dolma’€™? When did you first hear of Dolma? When you first met her did she readily agree to let you film her story?

Kesang Tseten:  The challenge was the difficulty of access, to Dolma, to the women working in Kuwait, as I couldn’€™t go there.  So I had to depend on footage that was gotten by other people, some of which was very good, but they too had limited access.    Also, how to tell a story using the single example of Dolma, sentenced to death and sitting in death row (subsequently, her sentence was commuted); how to tell such a complex and personal story without delving too deeply into the personal, and how to make it work so it conveys the general condition of women domestic workers.

Documentaries normally do not achieve commercial success. Have you ever thought of making mainstream commercial movies?

Kesang Tseten:  I would love commercial success but it’€™s not why I make documentaries. I make a livelihood, so I consider that good going, doing what I like and getting paid. I have thought of making a feature – let’€™s not say mainstream commercial films – but when I finish a documentary, the next one somehow seems to loom, so I continue. But even there I wouldn’€™t do it to get commercial success because it isn’€™t that easy, for one. I would do it to try a different form, but only if I had a story I absolutely liked. That aside, I don’€™t see documentary as an inferior form or something you do as a rite of passage before making a feature. That notion isn’€™t valid. It all depends on how well you do it, how satisfied you are rather than the idea that features are a higher form than documentary

How have you been managing the funds for your films?

Kesang Tseten:  I have been lucky to get funding regularly for all but one of my films. The Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) has been very good, Helvetia’€™s, too, in funding the films and giving me a free hand to do it anyway I see fit. That kind of freedom is rare. I have also gotten grants from the The Jan Virjman Fund and the Pusan International Film Festival which are given on a competitive basis.

Has the audience of documentary films grown over the last 10 years? Do you use facebook or other social media to reach your audiences? How can they get access to your films?

Kesang Tseten: I’€™m sure the audience has grown, thanks to several film festivals (FSA, Kimff, some others and lots of opportunities for screenings, but it would be wonderful if television slotted documentaries on a regular basis, real documentaries, not reportage and news features. They do but we have to pay for it at present. Then it would reach a huge audience.  I don’€™t use social media all that much except to put up notices for screenings. I guess I’€™m not such a great marketer.

What inspired you to follow the lesser popular style of filmmaking? Are there other filmmakers who inspire you?

Kesang Tseten: I don’€™t know what is popular and what isn’€™t. I think about my subject, film in a way that I think is suitable, or often, I don’€™t have a plan but film as a way of research, and then see how to solve the puzzle, of finding the best vehicle for the material.  Most times, it’€™s the material that suggests the form.  There are lots of inspirational figures such as, these days, Frederick Wiseman, who makes long observational films about American institutions (Titticut Follies, Near Dying, High School), the Maysles (Salesman, Grey Garden), Erroll Morris (The Thin Blue Line, Gates of Heaven), Ross Mcelwey (Sherman’€™s March, Time Indefinite), and many more.

Three other films from Nepal have are being showcased in the upcoming festival. Have you watched those films? What is your opinion of those films?

Kesang Tseten:  I haven’€™t watched the other films from Nepal and don’€™t know about them.

What is the condition of independent filmmaking in Nepal? Do the independent filmmakers of Nepal meet and exchange ideas on a regular basis?

Kesang Tseten:  Independent means different things at different places.  If you mean, a film’€™s content and form that is produced free from sponsor’€™s interest, I think that is happening, to some extent but not alot because there isn’€™t funding to support that, and also our capacities.  We tend to be influenced by the issues that have funding interest, which is to be expected as who can make a film out of his or her own pocket, but that’€™s the situation. That and the fact that we are fairly new to this kind of expression, or not as developed, given the lack of practice and experience.  We tend to know each other, filmmakers, that is, but there isn’€™t a thriving discussion or scene going on, I don’€™t think. I suppose it will happen when we are ready for it.

 

An Afternoon with Shambhu Pd. Poudyal, Director of Nabil Bank

It was a bright sunny day when Shambhu Prasad Poudyal, the Director of Nabil Bank, walks into the coffee shop at 2:30pm, his grey tuxedo appearing suave and sophisticated, as usual, for the interview. Calm and collected, he settles down, orders a cappuccino.  As we start our conversation, I notice that with spots of grey hair and fine lines on his face, he gives the impression of a wise, no nonsense kind of a person.  And why shouldn’€™t he be? He has been a respectable figure in the banking industry for almost 35 years.

Beginning the interview by discussing his family, I was told that Mr. Shambhu was born the second child in a family of three sons. When he was 4 years old, his mother passed away. Growing up, he shares fond memories of his father, who he claims to be his best friend and his inspiration. And now that he’€™s the father of two young adults himself, he feels he shares similar chemistry with his children.

Nabil Bank is known to be the first joint venture bank of Nepal.  Running in its twenty sixth year, it has become one of the most successful commercial banks earning the good trust of its customers and providing quality service.  Since he was elected the public director in 1986, Mr. Shambhu has been working with the bank close to its inception. He had been working assiduously in the banking sector even before Nabil. Starting his career at the Nepal Ratra Bank in 1982, he has worked with regulating institutions like Rastra Beema Sansthan in leading positions. He was also appointed the national advisor of national insurance committee by the Ministry of Finance.

Although he has worked with other corporations, a glance at his career path is telling that most of his years were spent in the banking sector.  ‘€œMonetary institutes that are accountable to public’€™s interest need more sincere and honest people. That’€™s what enticed me to banking, initially,’€ he explains. ‘€œIn my younger years, more than anything, I knew I was a sincere and honest person and that I wanted to be in a position where I could represent the public, and make sure that their hard earned money was taken care of astutely.’€ Headstrong on accountability and incisive, he shares that the perk of banking is born from the professional working environment it facilitates, and being able to deliver service at the right time.

We all know that these days, banks have become one of the most sought after workplaces for youth. He believes this is because of the lucrative salary range that they provide to their employees. ‘€œYou compare the salary, and grooming opportunities given in banks to their employees with any other sector and you’€™ll see that banks will always be on top.’€ Not just that, he believes it is also because banks now are equipped with many modern technologies in tune with the advanced world, which helps young minds flourish more than in most other institutions. It is only natural for the young and talented crème of the crop to be attracted to this sector.

But his message to those interested in joining banking sector is that ‘€œJust the idea of working in a bank is not enough make sure you are able to represent it!  You can always learn and augment your knowledge, and skill. But always remember that hard work and sincerity is the key to becoming a good banker.’€

Digressing to other things, we begin discussing his youthful years. Shambu smiles, sips his cappuccino and goes on, ‘€œWhen people look at my profile, they might assume that I was very serious, career oriented person, but I was very different from that.’€ He then shared his love for sports, and lightened up the serious tone. He retold his stories of teen years playing soccer with friends, leading youth clubs and, with pride in his eyes, reclaims that his club was the first to introduce snooker in Nepal. As he spoke more of his achievements and involvements, including being member of the Red Cross Society and the mountaineering club, I couldn’€™t help but wonder how he must have been a leader and a role model even to people of his generation in his wonder years.

And now, after many years, he is still regarded as an inspiration by many in our generation. Upon asking him what message he has for today’€™s youth, he says ‘€œYouth are the power of the nation. For me, youth are not to be called youth because of their age but because of their stamina and their strength to stand up against the system to correct it. We didn’€™t have the exposure like you do and now that you have the technology and liberal minds at your disposal make sure you utilize that for the better. We were confined to studies, but now you have many more creative outlets to hone your abilities and potential. You have the time and people to support you.’€

‘€œKaam garna ko lagi janne hoina, janna ko lagi kaam garna parcha!’€

 

Being a Leo WE SERVE!

When I entered a restaurant at New Road to conduct an interview with the president of Leo Club, Leo Pramod Shrestha, I was expecting him to be in formal attire and with a serious face. But he was very different. Wearing the bright yellow and dark blue T-shirt of the Leo Club and with the signature friendly Leo smile, he looked very casual, approachable and just plain nice.

Leo Pramod was the president of Leo club of Kathmandu Samakhusi for 2010/2011. Kathmandu Samakhusi is one of the Leo Clubs of District 325B. His role as the president of the club has come to an end but he has greater responsibilities now. He has been elected the coordinator of District 325B. Honestly I had no idea about District 325B. When asked he told us that, 325 is the code provided to Nepal by the international Leo Club. All the Leo Clubs of Nepal have been divided into two districts; Dis 325A and Dis 325B. There are a total of 25 clubs in 325A and a total of 52 clubs in 325B. The Leo Club of Kathmandu Samakhusi is one of those 52 clubs.

Kathmandu Samakhusi has never been a standout club. Yes, good things were achieved, but it had never won the limelight or even shared it with the other clubs before Leo Pramod Shrestha came along. Joining Leo in 2007, Leo Pramod admits ‘€œit’€™s been a pretty long journey since then till now’€. One of his biggest achievements was being honoured with Membership Growth Award by the International Leo Club. Wanting to learn more about the organisation and Leo Pramod’€™s role in it, Verse spent an inspirational afternoon with the Leo man of the hour.


What motivated you to join Leo all those years ago?

I have been interested in social work since a very early age. That is what attracted me in the first place. Other than that, Leo is one of the best places to meet people from different areas of life. It is a great platform to learn about other people’€™s experience. Many people actually join in for the key purpose of social networking. Ever since I have joined Leo I have come across so many different people and learned so much from them.

What are the aims of the organization?

‘€œWe serve’€, it is the motto of Leo and that is what we do.

During the time you served as the president of Leo club of Kathmandu Samakhusi, what are the services you have done?

As long as I have been involved in the club, I had a wish to organise a health camp. I got my wish fulfilled during my service period as the president. We organised the free health check-up camp in Nuwakot. It focused on women’€™s health and eye-sight check-ups. Along with that we also organized a free health camp for the old age home. There was a cultural preservation programs at Mhyapi. Then we also organized an interactive program with children the Nawakiran Ashram at Hattiban and supplied stationeries and sports equipments for them. On 30th December 2010 we conducted a charity program for blind students of Sanjeevani School at Dhulikhel. In the program we distributed tape recorders and musical instruments for classes VIII, IX, and X for their study.

What is one thing you did during your service that you are really proud of?

There are so many, it is hard to pick one. But one thing that I am really pleased with is the health camp that we organized. It was self satisfying- a long time dream that came true. Other than that, we broke a cliché in our club too which I am really happy about. We moved from doing regular programs and initiated fundraising programs. We raised Rs. 80,000 which is a record for the club. Out of the total amount we donated equipments worth Rs. 35,000 to Sanjeevani School.

Are you satisfied with the services you have provided? Is there anything that you feel that you still missed to do?

No, not really. I did everything that I possibly could do as the president of the club. Moreover, I accomplished my life-long dream of conducting a health camp which is my biggest achievement. We did not organise more than nine programs that year but it was a successful year. Aantepachi safal bhaincha.

Any advice for the youths of Nepal?

The best thing you can do is explore yourself. So, utilise your time and get to know the creative, athletic side of yourself. Find your identity. Leo helped me find mine, may be it will help you to. Else, there are other mediums as well. You can join a club or get into sports. The alternatives are plenty.

Leo is more than just a club. It is an opportunity for self-development. The word ‘€˜Leo’€™ itself stands for Leadership, Experience and Opportunity. Becoming a Leo is just a step away. All you have to do is find the nearest Leo Club and ask. For more information you can visit the Leo office located at Mustang Holiday Inn, Thamel, Kathmandu. Or search online at www.leoclubnepal.org.np