I watched ‘Prem Geet III’, but in HindiThe novelty of watching a Nepali film in Hindi dubbing is the film’s only saving grace.
It was exciting news when the ‘Prem Geet III’ team announced they would release their film in India. In the following months, we saw the film’s poster being put up on hoarding boards in major Indian cities and Pradeep Khadka speaking fluent Hindi in press meets. The film’s marketing also included Hindi trailers, released through Zee Music Company’s YouTube channel. Popular Indian singers like Jubin Nautiyal, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, and Pawandeep Rajan were roped in to sing for the Hindi version of ‘Prem Geet III’.
I watched the Hindi dubbed Nepali film in a Kathmandu cinema hall, and this was my first time doing something like this, and I recommend you do the same. First, I loved the dubbing. This was the first time most Indian audiences would ever watch a Nepali film. So, filmmakers needed voice actors that Indian audiences were familiar with. And the makers delivered on that point.
The makers hired some of the most sought-after dubbing artists for the Hindi version. The titular character of the film Prem (Pradeep Khadka) was dubbed by Sanket Mhatre, who is the Hindi voice of Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) in ‘Inglorious Bastards’ and Deadpool (Ryan Renolds) in ‘Deadpool’. For Geet (Christina Gurung), they hired Pooja Punjabi. She is the voice of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in all Hunger Games films and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) in all Marvel films.
Sadly, the novelty of watching a Nepali film in Hindi and the Hindi songs are the only saving grace of ‘Prem Geet III’. The actual film, its story, plot, and characters do not live upto the massive expectations.
Prem Geet franchise is a series of love stories about Prem and Geet. Previous films from the franchise followed glossy romance flick tropes chronicling how Prem (Pradeep Khadka) falls in love with Geet (Pooja Sharma in part I, and Aaslesha Thakuri in part II). Since the two instalments were both standalone films, you can watch and understand Prem Geet III even if you haven’t watched part I and part II.
‘Prem Geet III’ is a love story set in the medieval era, in a mountainous village and a badly VFXed darga (castle). This time, Prem is the son of a ruler (Shiva Shrestha), and Geet is a naive villager who pays taxes to the ruler. When they were young, Prem saw Geet submit two gold bangles to his father as taxes. And from that moment on, Prem falls in love with her. His life’s only aim is to return the jewellery to Geet and fall in love with her. When Prem is all grown up, he does just that, and Geet also somehow falls in love with him.
Geet is written to be a naive village girl, but she comes off as dumb. We understand she disapproves of violence, but she is ok with felling trees because they would provide houses for her people. And that is the entirety of her characterisation. She feels so underdeveloped that all her actions translate to being terribly dumb. For example, we never know how Geet falls in love with Prem. We have to assume they do because they are the film’s leads. When she is badly hurt, her character quietly becomes a vehicle for the male protagonist’s revenge—like every other cliched Nepali film.
The film is written rather poorly by Mandip Gautam and (the late) Chetan Gurung, who also co-directed the movie with Santosh Sen. The film’s writing is its weakest link. The writers attempt to shoehorn various tropes of medieval-era fantasy fiction, like prophecies, betrayals, and murders. However, all tropes, whether of medieval fantasy fiction origin or romance, are underdeveloped and cliched—leaving the audience indifferent toward anything that happens on screen. Making things worse is that everything in the film is told to us.
The film’s editing also ruins the story. The songs come back to back. The film has four songs; two are placed before the interval and two after. There are no gaps between the songs.
Also, the Nepali version is two hours and 10 minutes, while the Hindi version is two hours long. If you watch the Hindi version, you realise the editors have haphazardly chopped off 10 minutes without considering the film, its flow, story, or logic.
‘Prem Geet III’ ends with a reveal of a massively important villain; the scene is designed with slow motion and everything. However, you realise you have never seen this villain anywhere before in the film. You never understand why you should care about this person and why they are important. Bhupendra Adhikari, Banish Shah, and Sanjay Sankla—who has edited films like ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ (2004) and ‘Great Grand Masti’ (2016)—are the film’s editors, and they are to be blamed for the editing mess.
However, one of the few positives in the film is its visuals. The film’s cinematography is credited to Rajesh Shrestha and Purushottam Pradhan, and both of them are on point. You can feel the mountains consistently as the filmmakers attempt to capture snow anywhere possible in their outdoor shots. Indoors, you will find deep shadows and soft lights—a combination that works well for the genre. Just watch period films like ‘Seto Bagh’, or even the latest ‘Nalapaani’, and you will feel the difference. The film’s production design deserves special mention. Art director Binod Kadayat is very mindful of giving us the most value for productions. The production design team might not be very creative, but they are economical.
However, the film’s many shortcomings make it look like a low-budget version of ‘Bahubali’ (2015) and ‘Game of Thrones’ (2011-2019). Compared to those productions, ‘Prem Geet III’ is made on a shoestring budget. ‘Bahubali’ was made on a budget of around Rs three billion, while the ‘Prem Geet III’ budget is around Rs 40 million. If you do the math, the latter spent a little more than one percent of what the former did.
In hindsight, I feel like the production journey of ‘Prem Geet III’ is more interesting than the actual film. The story of producer Santosh Sen and actor Pradeep Khadka’s plight to take ‘Prem Geet III’ to Indian cinemas has more drama, intrigue, politics, and adventure than the actual film. I hope to read a memoir or watch a documentary about that someday.