It’s something rejoice-worthy that a film from Nepal has gathered all the attention and praise that The Black Hen received while making its rounds in film festivals. The Black Hen is emerging cinema from the deep valleys of Nepal. Although the film has amateur actors trying to find a grip, it has heart and an unmistakable honesty about it.
The movie is set in a small village in Nepal, and it brings together two aspects—innocence and insurgency—and tries to weave them together. The year 2001. A ceasefire in the times of strife comes as a relief to the villagers. Prakash and Kiran, two young boys, one from a lower caste and another a higher caste, are good friends. The communist wave is influencing the younger people of the village, and Prakash’s sister leaves the home to join them.
Prakash is left with the hen that his sister got for him. He loves the hen and tries to protect it from his father who wants to sell it off. And one day, his father manages to sell the bird off. The boys are left with no other option but to go in search of the hen.
Kiran’s sister, a local teacher, gets married to a man who seemingly quit being a Maoist militant, gets dragged out of his wedding. The boys in search of their missing hen, and the hurdles they encounter in a fragile ceasefire become the picture.
The narrative is laden with picturesque descriptions, and humour is infused into everyday life in quite a natural way. Barriers of caste play a major role in relationships in the village, with notions of untouchability still rife among villagers.
With sudden changes in the environment comes sudden realizations. Prakash and Kiran discover things on their way and they set out for their return journey having seen much and known a few extra facts. An amicable film, it sees its audience through conflicts, mutiny and few smiles as well.
» Picturesque Nepal with its overpowering mountain ranges and hidden valleys.
» The earnestness of a bunch of amateur actors who have put up a good show.