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Bollywood directors love Nepal

Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS

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The Tarzan of Bollywood will soon be swinging in Nepal shooting for his new film "Girlfriend" with a sizeable Nepalese cast.

Brawny Indian actor Hemant Birje, who made his debut in 1985 with the Hindi film "Tarzan", hopes to give his sagging career a boost with the film that will be shot in the Himalayan kingdom this month.

Birje, whose last film was "Karz" in 2002, plans a comeback with "Girlfriend", a romantic that is likely to cast a Nepalese actress as the heroine.

Petite actress Usha Poudel, who gave a credible performance in the Nepalese film "Muna Madan" as the devoted wife of a Nepalese villager forced to seek a job abroad to pay off his debts, is being considered to play Birje's new girlfriend.

"Muna Madan" was Nepal's entry for the Oscar in the foreign film category last year.

It brought Usha recognition back home as well since the film is based on a novel written by late Laxmi Prasad Devkota, one of the most revered Nepalese writers, and continues to be a bestseller even today.

"Girlfriend" will be produced and directed by Rajesh Soni, who is said to have made some low-budget films in Hindi earlier.

Nepalese production artiste Nagendra Ghimire said Soni decided to shoot "Girlfriend" in Nepal with 50 percent of the cast from here.

Though Nepal is currently in the grip of turmoil with the opposition parties staging an indefinite agitation against King Gyanendra and a spate of shutdowns called by the Maoists, Soni still finds shooting in Kathmandu more economically viable than making the film in Mumbai.

Ghimire, the production controller of the new venture, said the director had flown down to Kathmandu on April 1, the same day the opposition parties started their stir, and finalised the schedule.

The shooting will take place in the valley as well as picturesque tourist spots Nagarkot, Kakani and Dhulikhel.

Last year four directors from abroad shot part of their films in Nepal. They included Bollywood producer K.C. Bokadia who brought actors Govinda and Priyanka Chopra to shoot two song-and-dance sequences for "Ek Hasina, Ek Diwana" and Bollywood director Rajat Mukherjee, who shot part of "Love in Nepal" with Sonu Nigam, Fllora Saini and Miss Nepal 1997 Jharana Bajracharya.

The other two were both from Pakistan: directors Iqbal Kashmiri who chose Indian actress Neeruta Singh as one of his leading ladies, and Rasheed Khwaja, who flew in several dancers from Bollywood.

Ghimire said if the political turmoil subsided in the next couple of months, Nepal would also see some Hollywood directors scouting for locales.


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