KATHMANDU: I could not enjoy a normal teenage life. I was not dating or going to parties and discos like today’s teenagers as I had my responsibilities towards my work. Moreover, being a celebrity I had my boundaries. I had to care about where I went and what I wore,” reveals Karishma Manandhar, the evergreen and charming Nepali actress.
Manandhar was just 14 when she debuted in the movie Santaan by Pakash Thapa. Till date she has worked in more than 200 Nepali movies and from being a young beautiful teenager to a mature charming lady she has also put on the mantle of a film producer and more.
Her early life
Born in 1972 as the first child of Chhetra Bahadur KC and Komal KC in Lalitpur, Karishma and her sister Kiran were brought up by their mother as their father died while they were still very young.
“I used to be a shy girl who did not like to talk much,” shared Manandhar. Along with her family, she lived at New Baneshwor where she used to attend a local government school. Karishma was not Karishma when she was born, her father had named her Bunu. About the name she recalls, “My father was in the army and once he was posted in Illam and in that area everyone would call their little ones Bunu with love, and influenced by that my father gave me the name Bunu.”
Stepping to the world of fame
In the year 1989 her movie Santaan was released where she played the lead role opposite well-known star Bhuwan KC. She was studying in Class VIII when she entered the film world. Her companion, neighbour, sister Anjanli Subba (Shrestha) as she calls her, gave her the name Karishma. “It was Anjanli diju who gave me my current name and with the changing of my name, my whole life changed. I think there is a kind of power and charm in the name.”
About landing the role in Santaan, Manandhar explains, “Prakash Thapa was our neighbour and he usually teased me that one day he would cast me as a heroine. And that came true and I entered the world of films.”
About acting early in her career she elaborates, “In that period there were not so many movies released like today, and we knew little about the film world and facing the camera. I was not fully prepared for my career and didn’t feel the emotions of the character. The director would do the briefing and I just used to copy each instruction.”
in her life
However, after doing the movie Mayalu, Manandhar realised that the work she is doing is of great importance. “Working in cinema is a great responsibility. It is not a joke and after working in a few films, I realised that I was not prepared at all. I lacked training and knowledge about cinema. It was not enough being just cute; you needed to have some knowledge about what you are doing.”
She added, “It was hard for me working in lead roles which were challenging and I had to project the feelings and emotions of a mature lady which I was not. Moreover the lead actors used to be in entire film scene, so I had to work continuously and I worked without knowing how.”
After her realisation and knowing that her future was in the Nepali film world, she went to India for training. She joined Madhumati Dance and Acting Training Centre, Mumbai and stayed there for around two years. During this time, she worked for Pakistani and Indian movies as well.
About her experience there she shares, “I had not seen the world and it was the correct decision to go to India where I learned about shooting, fashion, different languages and more. I developed my overall personality and was more confident to move ahead in my career.”
After doing a few more films, she met producer Binod Manandhar through the movie Kastoori to whom she got married in 1991. About getting married at such a tender age she shared, “ I was 18-years-old when I got married. When Binod ji proposed, my mother and sister convinced me that he was the right person for me. So I got
She added, “After marriage I got a strong moral support from him and my career took on full speed even after marriage.
“There were days when we had misunderstandings because of the controversy created by the media. But I took my personal and professional life on parallel lines and tried to keep a balance and learn from the mistakes. Moreover, the film industry is always my first love.”
In 1994 her daughter Kavita was born. “After the delivery, Binod came to take us home. The time when he took very good care brought us more closer than ever. I always have a ‘wow’ feeling about that time of my life. ”
Moreover, for around 12 years Karishma continuously worked as the lead actress and during this time she felt the need for change in her life and she decided to leave the country.
“I felt like I was living within a boundary where I did not get to know about the world and I knew only certain people and things. I was just doing shooting and coming home and I realised that there is not much left for me to give.”
With this realisation, she went to Baltimore, US in 2004 where she lived till 2010 and visited Nepal occasionally. About vanishing from the homeland, Manandhar explained, “It was the time when I was searching for myself and this time helped me to endeavour other kinds of work experience like store management, beauty enhancing training and more. Working in other fields and staying in a different land gave me a chance to be independent and know myself and explore my capabilities.”
She feels really great that she has been able to do what she loved in her life due the support of her family and friends. “I have a pure heart and I feel that no one should ever cry because of me. Now when I look at myself, I find I am not perfect and I might be too self-centred but I don’t have any regrets. I feel everything that started has to be finish, and you have to have a let go attitude and must have patience to be a strong person.”
Manandhar has given many super hit movies where she expresses, “In the initial days when my movies went super hits, I felt very happy and later I felt like the film deserved to be a super hit.”
She has received the Gorkha Dakshin Bahu, Best Actress of the decade in 2057 BS and many more honours and awards.
When asked about the reason for her timeless beauty and charm she merrily shared, “I have a pure heart and positive thinking. There is nothing special that I treat my body and skin with. I just drink lots of water. I don’t even exercise and have not done facials.”
She added, “You should enjoy your life, have time for travelling and do the things you like. You will look good outside as well when you are happy inside.”
Moreover she is happy that her daughter also supports her with the things she does.
The person who she admires and believes to be her never ending support is her mother. “Without the help of my mother, I would not be in this position. She has always been my guide and support system, who always encouraged me to do the things that I believed in.”
She is also participating the protest by the filmmakers. About the ongoing situation she says, “I feel a person who is from the film industry can make a difference rather than a person from outside where s/he will take much time to understand the need of industry and by the time s/he gets to know, the tenure is over and the things circle around with the problem always are there.”
About her attitude towards life she feels, “Life is a festival where there are great opportunities along with mysteries. You will be see different sides of life and you should learn to enjoy each moment. More importantly you should learn the ability to accept the reality of life.”