Find him. His jeans will be modest complementing his nonchalant gait. His eyes will search for the meaning of the present, while the smile with his diastemawill humbleyou even for days to come. He will not speak much and will lamentthat his friends and fans alike have taken upon the concern that he is ‘too proud of himself’, while secretly believing that he will not even find the hook to latch on to such proclamation. It will takea while for this idea to sink in that the blabbermouth from “Chaddke”, the high-pitched bald from “PashupatiPrashad”, and the commoner with uncommon traits from “Jatra” is commonly reserved. BipinKarki talks to Living this issue, probably giving only a glimpse into the life of a master actor.
Even those die hard fans of actor Bipin Karki will agree that he is mad, the figurative ‘mad’ that is. Every character laid out on a silver platter in front of him go through rigorous lab-testing, calculations, subjections, probably whirled around a little, probably boiled to the brim sometimes, or maybe even spread out to dry. He does not agree to take part in a project without understanding how soon he can lose his realism and submerge in the depths of another persona. He explains, “The job of the director is to make me and my fellow actors act. My job, however, is to make my character believable. The script only tells me what to do. It is I who has to make people believe that I am not Bipin Karki. The only way I can do that is by losing myself.”
This 34 year old actor was not always like this. He used to follow his elder brother Arjun Karki around. Going to stage plays where his actor brother had taken up projects would not generally be his choice of leisure. His parents hardly believed that an actor could make ends meet. The times have continually been cruel to actors. Acting has been sidelined as a hobby and taking it too seriously means a lifelong struggle for the actor.
But fate led the young Bipin Karki to Kamal Mani Nepal. It was this acquaintance that took him from his hometown of Bahuni, Morang to Gurukul Theatre in Kathmandu one fine day in 2005. He remembers, “It took me a while to realize that theatre was never too far away from me. I used to sit as an audience and watch but then I found myself on stage under the guidance of guru Sunil Pokharel”.
Within a year, Karki found himself touring for 55 street shows where he and his fellow interns took part in skits publicizing Nepal’s constitutional process. “That was my first paid job,” he remembers and elucidates, “but that would still not make a convincing argument that acting was worth a lifetime of dedication”.
When Norwegian director Morten Crog was looking for a recast for his play “Tara Baji Lai Lai”, Karki was there and ready. Karki says that the experience shall always remain in his mind like it was yesterday since he still draws inspiration from it. He says, “I had watched the play many times before. I knew where each actor was supposed to be, and how the story would unfold. And now suddenly, I was at the axis of that very play. Looking from the eyes of that character helped me understand how the entire audience would be looking at me”. Certainly an uncommon way to look at common things, isn’t it?
From then on, Bipin Karki has been taking life with a pinch of salt. He says, “I don’t have a definitive vision or an aim to where I see myself in a decade’s time. Can you tell me if there is a higher post of becoming an actor? An actor lives for the moment, breathes for the moment, dies for the moment, and perishes for it. There is no vision, just the now”.
His entry to the silver screen tells another story however. He has immortalized Bindu’s uncomfortable laugh from “Chaddke”, and has trademarked the equally uncomfortable laryngeal bass voice of Bhasmey from “Pashupati Prashad”. He told me in our previous encounter that he ate five raw eggs with their shells on just to get one shot in “Kalo Pothi” right. He adds spice to the role of a commoner in “Jatra” and says that he wanted to see the outcome of adding jest to the role of a gangster in the second edition of “Loot”.
“But the Ghatey character from Roshomon play is probably my best delivery and should therefore, be closest to my heart, “ says Karki, who has not been able to give time to theatre for almost two years now. “I don’t differentiate between theatre and films much. Theatre gives immediate reactions and you can improve your work in the next show. Films, once done, are bygones. There is no ‘next show’. The only way to improve is ‘next time’, in some other project. That’s why, responses matter more than other experiences,” he adds.
In the span of ten years, ‘responses’ that have mattered to him most have come from his family. With a haughty smile he admits that his family now truly believes that acting can be pursued as a career. Karki has been married for a year now and spousal support has also made him attempt more. He justifies, “A businessman keeps dignity in his outlook. A doctor controls his family health. Probably a teacher is always teaching, a preacher always preaching. It’s a same with actors too. Sometimes I feel that I am always acting – even with my family, without their knowledge.”
While his family has understood that acting can yield, the fraternity is still lagging behind to reward actors handsomely. Karki says, “I come from facilities and provisions that seldom found hardships. But that does not go without saying that to keep up with the pace that society moves with, remuneration has to be justifiable”.
“I understand that revenue that comes from a small film circle is proportionality small. But our stories are not limited. The larger half of the nation’s familial categorization is made up of common men. And commonly, heroism comes out of these commoners doing uncommon things. There is our story, and there should be our investment”.
Karki will be seen in “Loot-2” and “Laalpurja” in the coming year.