Cinema Halls in Nepal : The Story of 1st Cinema Hall in Nepal

Cinema Halls in Nepal

Cinema Halls in Nepal :Overview

Cinema Halls in Nepal, While digging into the history of cinema exhibition in Nepal, Rana reaches the reign of Prime Minister Devshamsher. It is known from the first and third issues of Gorkhapatra that he and his wife were shown to the general public in Tundikhel during their Sindoor Yatra. Padmashamsher, who became prime minister in 2002 BS , had shown some movies to students in his private theater after he took office.

Mohan Shamsher came to power in 2006 by forcing Padmashamsher to go into exile. The statement made by Mohan Shamsher on the occasion of his Sindoor Yatra after taking over the government and the statement given on the occasion of his birth anniversary a few months later did not mention the establishment of a cinema house. In his time, cinema became a means of public consumption in Nepal. By setting up the ‘Kathmandu Cinema Building’, arrangements were made to sell cinema tickets and show movies commercially like today.

Cinema Halls in Nepal
Cinema Halls in Nepal


There is no consensus in the previously published material on the name, date of installation and ownership of this first cinema hall. The then government had set up Kathmandu Cinema Bhawan (Public Service Hall) under the auspices of the municipality and the income would go to the municipality. Inaugurated on 26 Mangshir 2006, the first movie to be shown in this hall was “Ram Vivah”.

The front page news item titled ‘Cinema Inauguration in Kathmandu’ in Gorkhapatra on 27 Mangshir further clarifies about the cinema hall:

Kathmandu, Mangshir 9 :

A cinema screening was held at Kathmandu Cinema Building today. Colorful flags hung around the building. On the entrance door was written in red and white letters the glory of Shri 3 Maharaj. Decorated urns were placed in various places inside the building. A cinema called Ram Vivah was inaugurated by the concerned staff. The decoration of the interior of the cinema building could be compared to that of a famous cinema building. Everyone’s face looked very happy with the philosophy of this show.Many people had gathered in front of the building. Arrangements have been made to show the movie twice a day. (Gorkhapatra, 8/27/2006).

Old History Nepal
Cinema Halls in Nepal

Preparation for the Cinema Show

Bhim Bahadur Pandey, who held a high position in the Rana administration, in his book mentions the discussion about the establishment of cinema halls in Nepal in the fourth part of Nepal at that time.

As it was decided to open the first cinema hall in Nepal in August 2006, a petition was filed for permission to open a cinema hall for all of Shri 3 Mohan’s nieces, nephews, hopefuls and army men. Most of the petitioners are people who should not be defeated by the Prime Minister. Vijay suggested opening a cinema hall in the government sector in Nepal, handing over all the proceeds from the development to the city and running a cinema through the Industry Council. That was immediately accepted. (Pandey 2071, p. 110)

According to Pandey, the then secretary of the municipality, Subba Anangman, was tasked with turning Sherchan Savik’s auditorium (now the Vishalbazar Metropolitan Police Circle, a public service site) or town hall into a cinema hall. Shortly before the exhibition started, an editorial titled ‘Cinema’ was published in Gorkhapatra on 1st Mangshir.


Cinema Halls in Nepal
Cinema Halls in Nepal

The editorial also gives the date of the public screening of the movie. The present visionary Shri 3 Maharaj has made arrangements to show the movie on tickets from December 26 under the auspices of the municipality to benefit the country. There is news that the required money has been withdrawn and the place to show has been ruined. ‘

As mentioned in the same editorial, “People were scrambling to set up shop inside the cinema house camp” (Gorkhapatra, 2006/8/1/2). A total of 25 young employees, ranging from female gatekeepers to ticket sellers and managers, have been searched, the official said. The salaries of these employees ranged from 180 (gate keeper) to 1500 (manager) per annum. Nara Bahadur Thapa, BA was appointed as the first manager of the cinema hall. Ram Prasad Rimal was appointed as the assistant manager.

As mentioned in the editorial, the fact that the merchants are trying to set up shop inside the cinema hall compound is also evident from the information published in the magazine. According to the information, as it was understood that there would be an open box in the public cinema in the Juddhasadak auditorium, many people from Behora had requested to have a shop selling cigarettes, betel nuts , Chiaroti etc. inside the auditorium.

A total of nine shops were available for the day in Kawal Bahal and they could sell betel nut spices, cigarettes, matches, milk, tea, biscuits, sweets, bread, soda, sweet water, syrup ice cream etc. without increasing the market price (Gorkhapatra, 2006/8 /1).

Cinema Halls in Nepal
Cinema Halls in Nepal

The Movies and Costing

It has been mentioned above that after the preparation, the commercial screening of the film started at the Kathmandu Cinema Bhawan from the movie called Ram Vivah. Directed by Prem Adib and produced in 1949, the religious film ran in Kathmandu for about three weeks. After this, a movie called Emperor Ashoka was screened. Produced in 1947 and directed by KB Lal, the film ran for a few more days (about a month).

However, the subsequent JK Nanda-directed film license lasted only two weeks. There was even a rumor that the movie was being censored. In between, it was postponed for a few days due to electricity and other reasons (e.g., death mourning). From its inception to the end of 2007, at least 22 cinemas have been shown in this hall. At least one movie has been screened for 10 to 33 days. It is known that an average of 19.5 days is spent in a cinema in Kathmandu.

If we look at the movies made in Kathmandu based on his story, one third of the movies were shown focusing on religious and historical themes. The other two-thirds of the movies were about love, romance and other social issues, some of which were even hit movies that made a lot of money the year they were released.

Old New Road
Cinema Halls in Nepal


The Rana ruler paid more attention to the theme of cinema. He also wanted to show his nieces and nephews in ‘appropriate’, religious and educational cinema. But the details of the movies screened during the Rana period do not show that their goal has been achieved.

While showing movies in Kathmandu cinema halls, movie trailers and various other short documentaries to be shown in the near future were also shown. There were many English, some Hindi and even a Nepali in such documentaries. Other foreign documentaries including Private Life of Silkworm, Olympics, Handicraft of India were screened.

A documentary on Mohan Shamsher’s visit to India was also screened, which is probably Nepal’s first documentary. Apart from such documentaries, slides were also shown before the movie started. Such slides are shown as advertisements and the price list of such slides is also published in Gorkhapatra.

The Audience of That Time: Cinema Halls in Nepal

From the study of Gorkhapatra material and other secondary sources, little is known about the home cinema in Nepal’s first cinema. Since the ticket price for the upper class is a bit expensive, it can be said that only those who have a little will see it. But the lower class ticket rates were not so ‘expensive’ and especially the poor teachers were seen making cinema a means of entertainment.

Harsh Maharjan has mentioned that the so-called untouchables have been banned from watching movies till 2007. But he did not disclose the source of the fact. According to Bhim Bahadur Pandey, ‘people of all classes’ were popular in cinema. The available facts do not indicate that certain castes have been deprived of watching movies. From the very beginning, female viewers were not barred from watching movies in Nepal’s first cinema house. However, there were some restrictions. Before the inauguration of the cinema house, it was stated in the notice published in Gorkhapatra on 24 Mangshir:

Besides, the first and the second have to show the second class and the audience from above to bring their world with them. ‘

This information prevents women from watching movies on days other than the one scheduled. Similarly, even if the upper class gets to show their ‘Jahan’ in the cinema, it does not give that facility to the lower class. In the last days, the days fixed for women have been changed and at some times it has been limited to one day of the week.


Cinema Halls in Nepal
Cinema Halls in Nepal

It has been mentioned above that young boys have also been involved in the black market of movie tickets and have been arrested. There were a lot of young boys and school students in the cinema audience. The information and order printed in Gorkhapatra indicates the same: ‘When it is revealed that students have come to watch fraudulent movies, the Director General of the Industry Council has brought his own Guardian with him in the previous’ So’. As it is an order box, only children under the age of 16 will be shown in the cinema. ‘(2007/8/19/4)

Also, the ‘capacity’ of the cinema hall is not known. But in Gorkhapatra of 12 December, 2007, a notice of contract has been published for the printing of tickets for the cinema building, which helps to estimate the number of spectators. According to the advertisement, the cinema needs 460,000 colorful (i.e. different categories) tickets a year. If it is shown in cinemas throughout the year, it costs 1,260 tickets a day. If you show three sleeps a day, 420 tickets are available for one show.

If two shows are calculated in such a way that up to 630 people can watch a movie. Therefore, it can be estimated that the capacity of the house in that cinema is from 400 to 650 seats.



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