Korean Film Festival 2007 in Kathmandu

The Korean Film Festival is currently going on at the Russian Cultural Centre here in Kathmandu. The festival which started on Nov 12 will last till Nov 16(that’s tomorrow). And the screenings are free! They are showing a total of four movies (repeated screenings too) namely “Joint Security Area” (JSA), “II Mare”, “Just Do It” and “I wish I had a wife”. I had never watched any Korean movie till date so I went there yesterday to watch I wish I had a wife and Just Do It.

I’d taken the brochure of the screenings a day earlier and I found the storyline of ” I wish I had a wife” to be pretty interesting. It stated that the movie was about a guy who has been working at the same place for three years and never been absent or late. Once he is late because the subway train stops on the way to work. Everyone around him reaches for their phones to call someone. That moment he realizes that he doesn’t have a single person to call. I sometimes face the similar situation too so I really wanted to see the movie thinking I could relate to it. And it did not disappoint me at all!


I reached the place at 11:04, late by four minutes as the show started at 11. A lady ( Korean I’m sure) in a golden brown coat was standing on the entrance and smiling ear to ear on seeing me from a distance. I wondered why, but smiled nevertheless. Kim Bong-soo, the protagonist of the film was relating the subway event to his friend when I took my seat.

“You could have called me.” The friend says and Kim replies “No, you’re not getting it. I want to call someone special.” What Kim doesn’t know is that there is a 27 year old woman who works across the bank who likes him. The movie was going on slow and steady but the place I was seated in was not fine. Someone near me had put on a real strong scent which was giving me a hard time as I can’t stand such strong odor. Then from the moment I took my seat it started shaking as if there was an earthquake. First I thought it was because someone in my row had the habit of shaking his/her leg, later it was clear that a guy behind me was almost lying down on his seat, placing his feet on the back of my seat and shaking it. I was closing my nose with one hand and trying not to concentrate on the Shaking seat thinking it is not because of the person. I was just denying the fact. I was trying to concentrate on the Ting-tong sound in the bank, ditto what you hear in Japanese railway stations, I eat just the way Kim does in one scene gobbling down everything in sight in hunger I thought…but the shaking would not stop. Kim meets his old heartthrob and falls in love. The 27 year old woman doesn’t know of it so still likes him.

The vibrating seat was really starting to piss me off. I had already turned back twice to warn the guy. Finally I turned back again and said “Please don’t shake your legs.” It stopped for sometime. Started again! It was so damn irritating I tell you and isn’t the first time I’ve faced that either. It happened to me in Kumari when I had gone to watch “Die Hard 4.0” on my own too. Then I had just turned around and given the guy a glare and it had stopped. But this “sale” was just not getting the point! I turned back again and said “Please stop it!” It stopped and re-started! Damn irritating I tell you. What was I supposed to do other than tell that, I couldn’t yell in anger and ruin the show? Do people just detect that you are on your own in movie theatres or do is it a regular phenomenon? It has never happened when I have gone out with my friends. The shaking would stop occasionally to start again, but the frequency of the movement had lessened. I learnt to live with it then.

Moving on to the protagonist of the film leaving behind the antagonist in the theatre there were plenty of other things I could relate to. There was a sweet scene in which Kim tells the 27 year old woman “You’re like a tomboy. Maybe because you’re around kids most of the time.” (She teaches). The entire hall laughed. (I was wondering what’s so funny.)

The lady who wears glasses and is mostly clad in t-shirt and pants asks a girl friend of hers ” When a guy says you’re like a tomboy is that a compliment?” I found that so real even wanted to give her the reply “No, that only means you are a tomboy.” Hmm let me do some tomboy explaining here. Firstly I don’t like the term, my question is why “Boy”? That’s what 99.9% of the guys I know tell me too. So, I’m Bhai in college and have the mock verbal fights and also get punched at least once by Suman bro everyday. And I often meet characters (unknown to me) especially kids who say ” Yo didi ta kasto keta jasto!” But since I have been hearing that from my school days, its no big deal. However I had met one interesting character who seemed to have gone to extremes to prove her feminity. The girl in my first meeting with her told me she was dubbed a tomboy in her school. The short haired, fair complexioned girl (my age) said her friends would tease her to such extent that she thought she would prove them all wrong by having a baby thereby jumped into a failed marriage. Thankfully I have never wanted to PROVE anything so badly.

The tomboy thing could make another entry so back to the movie. As the lady remains unaware of Kim Soo’s affair the film looked like the music video of ” Tauba tauba re teri surat” by Kailash Kher. In the video a guy likes a girl when she likes another man, the cycle continues for many characters. However it all ends well. There’s one scene of the clear blue skies in the movie which looks like a picture of the sky rather than a part of the movie. I found that quite different from Bollywood and Hollywood flicks.The characters, the simple and compelling way the story is presented was interesting as I had never seen anything like that before. The movie ended and a woman to my right turned to say “Did you like the movie?”

“Yes.”

“Slow isn’t it? The one I watched yesterday was fast.It was something about the war between the North and the South. I don’t really like the fighting and guns but it was good. This one was slow.”

” JSA?” I asked her.

” Yes, yes.” She replied.

We had one hour to our disposal as the next movie only started at 2 and I was damn hungry. I planned to go to eat at Dudh Sagar. The woman ( a foreigner) clad in a large green shirt and blue trousers told me she planned to go out to eat too. I didn’t know her, nor any “foreigner kinda eatery” nearby too so I walked behind her trying to escape her company. She turned back and said “We could go to eat together. There’s a vegetarian place nearby, isn’t it?” She pointed at Angan and I didn’t know what else to do other than say “Yes” and go that way. I ordered Samosa Chat (it feels like lunch to me) which cost Rs 55 ( it is priced Rs 30 in Dudh Sagar so I had wanted to go there). She had Idli, sambar, coke and a veg burger. Later when my Chat arrived she wanted that too so ordered it. I was wondering how she could eat it all when Samosa Chat is enough for me. She was large so I thought maybe she has the appetite.

Later she said “People are starving and I have ordered so much. I feel bad.” She had the Idli and only a little bit of Chat. She took the rest for her chickens back home in Chauni, which was smart I say because of the creative way she packed the burger and chat in a plastic tying it with a chocolate wrapper from her bag! The waiters brought the elastic rubbers and packed it again. She asked me a lot of questions; from how many years I had the braces to “Do you think there will be elections?” I answer what people ask me but because I am not much of a conversationalist I don’t want to go digging about people myself unless they really intrigue me. However, I thought I would be at a loss if I didn’t inquire so I did. She happened to be living in Nepal since the last nine years as a homemaker. Her husband taught in the Lincoln school. During the conversation she said ” I wonder how the American people elected Bush twice to let him wage the war against Iraq”. I asked “Aren’t you an American?” She said “Yes”. I was a bit surprised. We never did ask one another’s name though. So I think it was a normal conversation and smart one too ( as we didn’t ask for names).

We went back to the RCC and talked of the South Asian Film Festival. She said she really liked the documentary on Slate. What I remember most about her impression is the way she stressed the word “Satisfied” by forming the inverted commas in the air when she said ” I can’t believe they work so hard to bring the slate and are satisfied with so less money. It’s unbelievable. I will never be able to look at a Nepali Slate the same way from now.” She continued to say that the FSA 07 widened one’s horizons and there was so much to absorb. Then I departed for the wash room while she stayed back in the sun to read her newspaper.

I was strolling in the hall when a guy came up to me. He’d seen me in the Youth Assembly and I remembered him too. So we talked of this that, exchanged names this time as we hadn’t in the assembly. He was alone too so we went back to the hall together. This time I sat in the last row, just in front of the aisle so that no one would shake their goddamn leg! The movie ‘ Just Do it’ was just real fun. I highly recommend it to everyone. Twenty minutes after the movie began a guy came seating next to S.A ( the guy I was talking to) who would interpret the English subtitles in Nepali loudly disturbing everyone around. It was a bit irritating again. (Yah, the subtitles were in English too, but when the South Asian documentary organizers never thought about the “audience” how can I expect to Koreans to think that?) I thought he ought to be a journalist for sure! The movie was over and as S.A was engrossed in talking to the “Journo” supposedly so I left without even saying a bye. I was rude, I was realizing that as I walked out fiddling with my cell phone but that’s what I am “really psycho”. Anyways I think it’s good to watch movies on your own as you never know who you stumble into! Maybe even an Akash someday! ( oh I’m crossing my fingers) LOL 😉

I plan to watch the remaining movies too and hey anyone reading it in Kathmandu, please be there. The movies are seriously the best thing I have watched in ages. Especially after sitting through the over-hyped Om Shanti Om it was a real good break. Jab We Met was better than OSO as it did not feel like fiveee hours in the hall but not worth spending Rs 150 or Rs 200 ( the increased Kumari prices) either. I think there is nothing worth watching in Bollywood movies other than what is shown in the promos. Well, they show the best of the movie in the promos to attract the audience and the rest is all crap. I plan to quit those Bollywood flicks from now, until somebody else is paying for it! An utter waste of time and money. All of them. When was the last time I watched a good Hindi movie..I think it was Dil Chahata Hai! Some like Hum Tum (entertaining) and even Ekalavya ( cinematograpy) was good but that’s all I remember for now……….

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2 comments

  1. I enjoyed ‘ I wish I had a wife ‘ and ‘Just do it’. I missed more than half an hour of just do it but I could make out the story. It was a unique exposure to a new culture. I have a slogan for myself developed while waiting outside the russian culture centre standing akwardly alone fidgeting with my cell “I wish I had a life”. Someone behind me was hitting the seats but it wasn’t exactly mine – the man next to me should have been irritated.

    Zaded

    I know that pretense of fiddling with the cell phone! Its easier to look at the cell phone (with no messages nor calls, I bet u know that) 🙂 than look at people. ( I had felt extremely awkward when I went to watch Die Hard 4 alone and was using the same tactics as if I were waiting for someone! Everyone is talking to someone and you feel like “baulayera eklai” film herna ako jasto, ghari ghari! And the intermissions seem like forever when you are alone, don’t they? I wish you had met some interesting characters like me did when I had gone for the Korean Film Fest alone. I am trying to figure out what makes the two of us ( not fun to be with 4 one another outside H) despite the fact that we think in the same wavelength??

  2. Samosa Chat for Rs. 55. ? ?
    What’s happening? I remember eating them for about Rs 15-20. I wouldnt pay 55 rupees for samosa chat. I’d rather learn to make it by myself.

    anyway, i’ve seen few authentic korean movies with subtitles. pretty good. There are also some movies which are korean versions of hollywood movies similar to bollywood versions of western movies. Indian movies suck big time when they copy but Korean movies do pretty good job when they copy.

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