KATHMANDU, June 13: Usually in movies, a guy meets a girl and they fall in love and overcome barriers, which are sometimes in the form of society and at times situations. Snow Flowers too is a movie about two people falling in love and going against the society for the sake of their relationship.
The ‘different’ factor in Snow Flowers, however, is that the protagonists are both women. Directed by Subarna Thapa, the movie is the first of its kind to come out of the Nepali movie industry and stars actors Nisha Adhikari and Dia Maskey in the lead roles. In a never before seen rush to make ‘realistic cinema’, Snow Flowers can be seen as a perfect example of how our society is rapidly evolving and opening up to concepts that were once taboo.
Though a fictional movie the characters reflect people in everyday life. The actress herself is said to have been inspired and heavily consulted Nilu Doma Sherpa, a young film maker who once was a part of the movie and worked extensively on its script. Sherpa who is a graduate from Asian Academy of Film and Television (AAFT), Noida, India, reveals, “Nisha, would ask me regarding the characteristic behavior because I am openly gay and she would consult me especially when it came to body language.”
Articulate and very comfortable in her own skin, Sherpa chooses to identify herself as a lesbian. “There is a lot of confusion here and they don’t understand that I don’t want to be a guy. If someone were come to me and offer a free sex change operation, I would decline it because that’s not what I want. I like the structure of my body. Yes I don’t wear girly clothes and have short hair but that’s more to do with my comfort level,” she says.
Sherpa shares that she had known from a very young age, when she was in kindergarten to be precise, that she was interested in women. But she is quick to point out that acceptance of being ‘different’ didn’t come to her overnight. “It’s a gradual process and I did have moments of being dramatic, suicidal and depress because I thought being gay was wrong. And I also had to start from scratch because before I realized it I was fine with playing with girls but after, I was awkward and shy around those I was attracted to, just as others would around guys. It’s like being born again because I had to put together the piece all over again,” explains Sherpa.
Sherpa is one of the lucky few to have come across people in her life who accept her for the way she is and credits them for being so comfortable in her own skin. “I came out to my best friend when we were in grade six, and she was very supportive,” she says adding, “One person who always knew and accepted it was my grandmother. We never spoke about it which could also be because she wasn’t aware of the terminology but she let me be.” However, it took her a long time to come out to her mother.
“I told her when I turned 25 and it took her a while to register and accept the fact that I wasn’t going to get married to a guy,” says the now 30-year-old with a smile. Going with the belief that she is more concerned about the generation she belongs to rather than the one previous to her or the one after, Sherpa is content that her circle accepts her and doesn’t care what the others are going to think of her.
“It is often believed with education comes awareness but I have seen the opposite. The upper middle class people in Kathmandu are more conservative about such matters as oppose to lower middle class,” says Sherpa who has often been criticized for the way she is and of the influence she could have on other girls.
Living in a society that still has double standards when it comes to men and women, she says, “For guys, if you are flamboyant it’s easier for them to come out, but for girls, even if you are tomboyish, they think it’s a phase and it will pass and because of these expectations it’s a little difficult for women,” she says.
Confessing that she is currently in the ‘process of dating someone’, Sherpa says with a smile, “I have never dated a gay girl because no one has come out to me yet and until five years ago I was the only gay girl I knew in Kathmandu.” And even though she’s had relationships, her partners have been unwilling to come out and she feels she has neither the right nor is in a position to oust them.
“So most of the time we end up being good friends in the public eye,” she says and admits to being fine with it. Someone who believes that partners in life are suppose to be there for each other, Sherpa says, “Unlike people who fall in love and automatically think of a future together, I can’t do that. Every time I have tried to talk about a future together, it’s been put aside and the relationship eventually falls apart.”
Someone who feels she has the best of both worlds as she has something to do with her friend’s from both the sexes, Sherpa says, “Your personality shouldn’t be defined by your sexuality. One’s personality always has to be theirs and sexuality is very personal and is nobody’s business regardless. You have to find yourself and be comfortable with yourself but being gay shouldn’t be your second name either.”
Confident and really in tuned with her inner self, Sherpa has come a long way. As a student at AAFT, the short films that she assisted in have been a part of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival which includes SWAP (2008), Dilli, Which was Once a City, Nattuwa, Truth, The Black Story and Jennifer. She is also the CEO of Nepal’s Most Desirable (NMD) a company that deals with everything to do with entertainment including celebrity management. But that’s not all; while she isn’t directing actors or celebrities on how to act, she is behind the microphone asking silly questions alongside Nattu Shah on Revolution Radio and will be starting a web talk show titled Nattu and Nilu Show starting June 15. “It’s somewhat like Koffee with Karan, but we are two gay girls asking celebrities very candid questions,” she says with a laug