[…] This is all intended to exhibit the divide between tradition and modernity, or traditionalism and modernization – that finally amounts also to be the difference between the countryside and the urban world.
[…] Through a genuinely “secular” gaze, the main target is the rigidity of ideology: both in a religious and political context.
There is a corpse, that of a deceased father, and the story that unfolds in White Sun is entirely concerned with the problem of how to deal with this corpse. At the same time, it immediately becomes clear that this situation is also speaking of more general issues and concepts that one must reckon with in life: how to deal with the past, with authority, with traditions, and with a national identity in a moment of rapid transformation. The divide between the importance of respecting traditional rites and the practical problems concerning the disposal of the corpse, which would require more pragmatic solutions, creates the fundamental tension and the dramatic drive of the story. This is all intended to exhibit the divide between tradition and modernity, or traditionalism and modernization – that finally amounts also to be the difference between the countryside and the urban world. The corpse and the division it creates represent the burden of the recent civil war in Nepal as well as the difficulty of finding a compromise between the strong ancient identity bound to an unjust society of casts and the often deceiving democratization bound to the bureaucratic logic of the Maoist party. It is probably the white sun itself, displayed on the Nepalese flag, that has become a corpse that must be dealt with.
Deepak Rauniyar wants to gather all of this information into a simple intelligent story, which has the intention of describing or even explaining the socio-political complexity of contemporary Nepal – not without a touch of humour. Even if the story may be a bit conventional at times, one cannot help but recognize the complexity of the picture Rauniyar is able to convey. With a very diplomatic solution, he succeeds in criticizing all of the parties while also showing their fundamental humanity. Through a genuinely “secular” gaze, the main target is the rigidity of ideology: both in a religious and political context. The signs of hope come more from the excluded women and even more from the newer generation: in the end, the children will be the only ones able to solve the problem of the corpse…
One could criticize the almost didactic use of metaphors and the general descriptive attitude of this cinema, but one must not forget how relatively young Nepalese independent cinema is – that is, independent of Hollywood or Bollywood models. To this respect, White Sun has to be seen as a self-reflective identity drama in which the identity of Nepalese cinema and that of Nepal itself melt together in an attempt to create a new geography and new narratives.
Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore
First published: April 07, 2017