KATHMANDU, Feb 8: She is no longer the open book she used to be. Nor is she the naïve face that used to model for various Nepali entertainment websites or anchor the television programs on Kantipur Television. From when she entered the glamour field of Nepal after winning Miss Teen Nepal in 2005 at the age of 17 to now at the age of 25, she’s become bolder, more careful and more particular about how she portrays herself, both on and off screen.
With two of her movies already released and three to be out soon, Priyanka Karki has been the talk of the town. Passionate about acting, career-driven and of course, alluringly beautiful, that is Priyanka.
“The door to my personal life is shut,” she says. After having to hear and read about one too many rumors, she stopped talking about her personal life, unlike in the past when she was open to talking about anything about herself.
Photo: Dipesh Shrestha
Why the change?
The journalism here is baseless. Our media industry is such that anybody can write anything about you and there’s nothing you can do about it. Recently, I had updated my Facebook status during the release of ‘Kollywood’ and they took out only one part of the status to report on, giving out an entirely different meaning of what I was actually saying. They are always adding their own ‘flavors’ into whatever they write about you.
What has been the harshest rumor you heard about yourself? How do you deal with it?
That I was having an affair with my first cousin brother. I try and explain to the people who matter to me, that it’s not true. Such rumors no longer bother me.
There are rumors and there’s the reality. If in the end, what matters is who you think you are, then what does ‘Priyanka Karki’ think about herself? As an outsider, I think the tattoo on her lower left foot says it all. Inked in black, is a silhouette of her, dancing.
“There will always be a dancer in me,” she says, “Dance is like fuel for me. At the end of the day, even if I’m very exhausted, someone comes up to me asks me to dance, I will.”
••• How do you describe yourself as a person?
I’m a fun loving and hard working person. I’m someone who tries to make the present good so that the future will become better.
And as an actor?
That, I leave to others. But, I strive to make myself versatile. I don’t want to be clichéd and stereotyped on screen. That’s why I take up different genres of movies and play different characters, as much as possible.
Do you think you have lived up to your own standards in terms of acting?
I’m two movies old in terms of release. And I think given the boundaries and the situations that I had to work in, I’ve done good. I try my best to look good on screen. If there aren’t good enough dresses or if the make-up person doesn’t have the kind of makeup that’s needed, then I make it a point to use my own dresses and make-up on the set. I don’t want to disappoint my audience. I’m going to raise the bar high.
On screen, you do your part to look good. What about off screen?
Once you’re a public figure, you have to maintain yourself. Actors like Rajesh Hamal and Karishma Manandhar had star power then but in recent years, new crops have flooded in and there isn’t much star power because the stars don’t know how to maintain themselves. Why would people look up to you or pay to go see you on screen, if you don’t know how to look good?
A handful of young talented directors and actors have given a thin silver lining to the otherwise dark clouds of Kollywood. Disappointments have become synonymous to the Nepali film industry from the way new ‘actors’ are born to the type of movies that are made. Priyanka graduated with honors from University of North Alabama with a degree in film-making. While in the US, she did try to get into the modeling and acting scene there. She had an agent there And she still does. We’re talking about Hollywood here, which is so much bigger than the industry that Nepal offers.
*** Why the decision to come back to Nepal? Your thoughts on directing.
My prime focus is to do something in Nepal, to not forget about this place. The Nepali movie Industry has gone down the drain right now. The market is crashing. The government has slowly started taking care of the industry. There’s no proper box office or grading systems. Plus, film-making is so easy in Nepal right now. It’s not at all competitive. There’s no quality in many of the actors. Hence, the charm is not there. I’m waiting for a transition. So no, I won’t be making my own films anytime soon, although I do have plans in the future.
But you do see the Industry becoming better?
It’s not like there’s no hope. I believe all this negativity will stop, that good hands will make sure there’s no place for untalented people. Things are gradually falling into place.
Are you picky about the movies that you act in?
Yes I am. I’ve turned down many movies because they weren’t in the range that I wanted them to be. But I plan to work in two to five movies every year because in Nepal, it’s not possible to sustain by acting in just one movie per year. After all, we have expenses and an image that we have to maintain.
You were once frequenting many music videos. Are you continuing with that?
Once you’ve entered the silver screen, there’s a charm you have to maintain. I’ve stopped doing music videos because they’re all over the place.
Priyanka is someone who has ‘been there, done that’ in the Nepali glamour sector, when those things were the ‘IT’ things to be and do. . Currently, she is doing her best to stand out from the stereotypes facing most Nepali actresses.
“Mostly actors in this industry are uneducated and unaware about the industry. It’s as if they suddenly wake up one morning and decide they want to be an actor or actress,” says Priyanka, “But I have planned this out. I don’t belong in the same category.”
*** Your advice to the aspiring actors and actresses?
Don’t take acting as a choice or as something very light. You have to be passionate about this art and have to give it the same amount of respect and dedication that you’d give to a profession of let’s says, being a doctor. People who take the easy way are bringing this industry down.
Most Nepali movies aren’t well received by the audience. This is also true about the movies that Priyanka Karki has been in. Both ‘3 Lovers’ and ‘Kollywood’ haven’t done well in terms of collections and the audience response. She definitely knows how to carry herself well and has the star quality that she endorses as a must in every celebrity. When it comes to Priyanka’s performance, she fares well for the character that she plays. Her acting is natural and she knows how to dance. . It might be too soon to label Priyanka as ‘the best’ or ‘just like the rest’, when it comes to acting, but she does demonstrate a lot of potential.
She’s headstrong about not disappointing her audience and doing well as an actress. With determination and passion burning, she confidently says, “Right now, for me, nothing comes before acting and this industry.”