In the remote Nepalese village during the Maoist Civil war, Prakash and Kiran, two 12-year-old boys are best friends, despite belonging to different casts. The simple ownership of a hen means a world to them: by selling the eggs they can make money and fulfil their childish dreams. But their society is constrained by poverty and caste divides. The sister of the poor one, Prakash, secretly joins the Maoist party, while the groom of Kiran's sister gets arrested and killed by the Maoists. Trying to get the hen at any price Prakash and Kiran have to face the harsh reality of the world surrounding them.
The Black Hen is a Nepalese film about sacrifice, loss and learning to release a hold of past pain, directed by Min Bahadur Bham – and is leaps and bounds above anything they’ve previously done (in regard to Nepalese cinema). What stands apart are the meticulous shots that contrast war against freedom and peace, and desperation against hope. They’re so beautifully done that can even stand on their own, without the narrative structure adjacent to them. To summarize: The Black Hen is poetic, aesthetically pleasing, mind-bogglingly honest and a potential contender for numerous awards to come.
The Black Hen follows a, surprise: black hen, whose whereabouts are looked after by several somebodies in the dire need to sell the poor animal to a neighboring village. Also, a decree by the village chief was being made which read that each and every hen should and must be sold to the decree proclaimer. Much to the dissatisfaction of the black hen’s master, he avoids selling the hen, but his father later succumbs to pressure and gets rid of the hen before you manage to spell the word H E N.
Thus, the boy we follow embarks on a quest to retrieve it and stumbles upon many obstacles which inevitably lead to a warn-torn area, still repairing morals which predate back to the Maoist rule of the country of Nepal.
In a film revolving around a domesticated chicken – there is much nuance to be extrapolated about wars, the nature of peace and reconciliation between opposing ideologies. The Black Hen does a very good job of translating emotions through the children’s doings on screen, and for this: it gets one Adrijan interchangeable point.
In continuation, in The Black Hen, implicitly and otherwise, plethora of symbolic allusions are scattered all throughout and this is where the film’s mystic nature really resurfaces to bring narrative order as its final wish. And just like our two boys Prakash and Kiran, played respectively by Khadka Raj Nepali and Sukra Raj Rokaya – we too are mesmerized to learn what the world brings them about, in all its twisted morality and borderline questionable stroke of events.
The Black Hen is by no means a typical entertaining movie to which you can shove popcorn down your throat and expect a big explosion to pull you out of your seat and tremor the surrounding areas to a halt. Rather, its contemplative, documentary-like nature tends to cocoon the viewer about in a Nepalese shell of equal times joy and bittersweet doings. In a way, it’s as if director Min Bahadur Bham decided to transport the Nepalese reality onto the screen while losing nothing from the conflict Kalo Pothi portrays.
A must see for cinema lovers and those who appreciate quality film-making above all else.