Film actress Samragyee RL Shah shared her experiences of having faced exploitation on various fronts in the film industry in a series of Instagram posts recently, and an in-depth interview with The Himalayan Times published on July 3. She has not named one single person in any of her videos or her published THT interview.
However, actor-director-producer Bhuwan KC approached The Himalayan Times to share his side of story regarding Samragyee’s exposé.
“Though my name has not been mentioned (in Samragyee’s videos on social or print media), it is clear — to the ones who’ve known me for the last 40 years in the film industry and the audience who have watched me — that those things have been targeted at Bhuwan KC,” shares KC.
KC says the actress had raised the subject of discrimination between his son (Anmol) and herself during the shooting of Dreams, her debut, in an interview around two years ago, which she has raised now too.
And it is evident from this who is she talking about, KC avers.
‘This never happened’
Claiming that it was him that Samragyee was referring to in her version of the story shared with THT, KC denies the allegations made in it.
Talking about the workshop for Dreams, in which the actress mentioned an Uncle who tried to kiss her forcibly, KC denies the incident taking place between him and her.
“Yo hundai nabhako cheej, wahan lai kina mann ma lagyo ra bhannu bha… (This incident never happened, (I wonder) why did she feel that and talked about it…)”
Saying that he is “surprised”, he counters Samragyee’s allegation that the ‘uncle’ asked her to do a romantic scene with him.
He goes on to elaborate: “The film industry is a glamorous field. There are hero and heroine who dance and sing, hug each other. There are romantic scenes — a film won’t be made these days without romantic scenes.
So, we always have workshops in cinema. There are teachers in the workshop to teach the artistes. We had contacted a director* to conduct a workshop for six-seven artistes we had selected for the film in different roles. He (the director) had sent his assistant. This assistant and our associate director* conducted the workshop in a group. When they were teaching some scenes, I was present there and guided them on how to do some scenes.”
But he denies teaching Samragyee any romantic scene personally during the workshop.
Rather, KC claims that as a director he and his team guided Samragyee in the field during the shooting and “I taught not only her but many other artistes, I have given suggestions on acting”.
Then he questions, “If she felt she was misbehaved with during the workshop, which was even before the film’s shooting had started, why did she act in the film? Why didn’t she say so then?”
Adding that he would support Samragyee if there had been any mistake from their (production team) side, KC however states that whatever she is saying is a “lie”.
The Kusume Rumal actor who has spent more than 40 years in the industry and acted in almost 100 films says that he has acted with many heroines and other artistes during this journey and he has not heard such comments from them.
“This is the first time in 40 years… The romantic heroines I have worked with (from the past till now) have not said that ‘Bhuwan dai has misbehaved with me’. If they had such an experience, they would have spoken about it.”
First time hearing about it
KC goes on to address the incident of someone entering Samragyee’s room in the dead of the night in a Pokhara hotel — he claims he is hearing about it for the first time.
“I don’t know about it. If such an event had taken place, I should have known,” he informs.
Shooting during a quake
KC also does not recall making Samragyee and her co-actor continue acting during an earthquake in 2015.
“We were in pain due to the earthquake, the whole country was in pain. I don’t recall much as we were mentally disturbed,” he says.
However, he does admit, “We were shooting in Jomsom when the earthquake hit. What I think is that we were doing a scene in a hotel.
We stopped shooting then. The hotel we were shooting in got destroyed.
But to complete the scene that we were shooting earlier, we continued in a corner of the hotel two days later.”
‘She is talented’
KC says that his production company Super Kajal Films is always on the lookout for talented people and tries to scout them from social media like Facebook and TikTok.
“We contact them, and call them to our office if they are interested, audition them and we select them as per the demand of our script,” he informs.
It was similar in the case of Samragyee too, he says.
“Jiya KC, who is our co-producer, liked her in a photo on Facebook and Instagram. Coordinating with her family, we called her, auditioned and taught her (about acting) a lot…” he says.
KC says that Samragyee is like a daughter to him and claims to have taught her acting and given her the platform (for acting).
“She (Samragyee) is talented, that’s why we signed her. And she did well and that is why she is a popular artiste now,” he adds.
Legal means to address defamation
KC also expressed problem with Samragyee “calling me a ‘pervert’” in one of her videos that has gone viral.
“That is where my objection is, and I am preparing to go to court for defamation of my character,” he informs.
In one of her videos Samragyee has said that a filmmaker got physically close to talk to her in Japan calling him a “pervert”.
Explaining that incident, KC shares his version as to why he went close to her to talk to her in Japan.
“She had given an interview on the discrimination she faced during the filming of Dreams (2018) on the facilities she and Anmol received on the set. My heart was hurting because of that but I hadn’t met her to talk to her. I met her in Japan (2018). We (artistes and reporters) were waiting in the hotel lobby to go for an awards function. Samragyeeji came to the lobby. I felt, ‘I met her here…’”
He continues, “I told her ‘Chhoro… yeta aau (Child come here).’ I called her aside from the group and told her, ‘I was hurt due to the thing you did last time. I wanted to talk to you but hadn’t had the opportunity.
What hurt you that you said that?’ I asked her. She said, ‘I have forgotten that Uncle. I said that in some mood.
There were some people who instigated me do so…
There is nothing…’”
He goes on to say, “Then I told her, ‘If there is anything or any mistake, tell me. We will apologise. You are my product (he launched her in Dreams). If there is anything, why go to media? If we attack each other in the industry, what will the audience say? We should sort it out ourselves first…’ I said and she said, ‘Okay, there is nothing.’”
KC, who admits he’s a friendly kind of person, defends his habit of calling people “Babu, Chhoro, Nanu …” as he does so due to “aatmiyata (closeness)”.
He shows this closeness to “even those who are new to the industry as they might be feeling intimidated to work with senior artistes,” he adds.
Appeal to FAAN for investigation into allegations
Claiming that all of Samragyee’s allegations labelled against him are false, KC has submitted a request appealing for an investigation into her accusations at the Film Artistes Association of Nepal (FAAN).
“This kind (of claim and allegations) will not take the industry forward. What I feel is that the truth has to be revealed.
What is wrong has to be punished,” KC cites the reason on why he took the matter to FAAN.
Moreover, KC feels that Samragyee could have been or is being instigated by people who are jealous of his and his son’s success.
“The film industry is associated with success, name and fame. There are people who support you, and some who are jealous. She talking such things after all these years, maybe I am not sure due to people thinking, ‘They are making good cinema, let’s bring them down.’ Not all are my well-wishers in the industry.
Anmol is on the rise. And they might want to ‘involve Bhuwan KC in this scandal which affects Anmol’. Those who want bad for us might have instigated her… I feel this could be the case.”
Platform for budding talents
“There are many talented artistes in all corners of Nepal.
We have to bring them to the (Nepali) film industry.
They would need a good platform no matter how talented they are,” he says adding, “We have given that platform with our production house.”
“There could be issues like you are not given water or facilities on the set (a mistake by junior technicians),” he says adding, “Such things you should point those out there and then.”
He adds that shooting is “labourious. We are not Bollywood. There is a lot of struggle. We have to work without sleep, in the rain…
We are small industry”.
40 years of hard work in cinema at stake
KC says the reason he joined the film industry is to “pursue cinema, whether successful or not, won awards or not, got applauded or criticised, to take this field forward”.
“I have tried my best to promote the industry and as a result I have received immense love from the audience. It is my greatest earning of my life,” he says.
* Names withheld to protect privacy of individuals