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Doctoral Project

Cinematic Kathmandu
Dikshya Karki (M.A.)

The project traces the emergence of a 'cinematic Kathmandu' through the study of films made against the backdrop of rapid urbanisation and social change in the Kathmandu Valley. It maps the evolution of an urban space as filmed through the ‘affective response’ of the film’s characters to the city.

Despite being a city of failed infrastructures, Kathmandu functions as the central economic joint of Nepal and a viable transit point for migrant workers traveling to the Gulf countries or the 'first world' for employment. While its population meets the metropolitan mark, its resources do not. The repeated promises by Nepali politicians to model it like Singapore and other financial capitals around the world references a certain kind of Asian urbanism and power (Roy & Ong, 2011) that characterizes Nepal’s own state of ‘transition’ and ‘quest for modernity’.

As ‘tourists’ and ‘western scholars’ continue to admire the city for its medieval architecture, mystic and religious façade, urban sprawl (Sengupta & Bhattarai Upadhyaya, 2016) gives it an everyday physical transformation. While its middle class inhabitants and youth with an exposure to consumer culture and mass media redefine the experience of being modern (Liechty, 2003). The city’s cosmopolitan character also benefits both its residents and filmmakers. Some work as ‘flexible citizens.’ Their political, social and cultural experiences are feeding into the creation of a cinematic body of work which is a response to and engagement with their urban surroundings. The project accordingly explores this trajectory of Nepali film production through translocal modes that influence it.