“I wear my honesty with pride,” says the Jaari actor, Miruna Magar. Born in an armed forces family, Miruna has lived in many countries. “I was born in Hongkong and later came to Dharan and finally moved to UK to be with my family and also for my higher studies,” she shares.
Miruna returned to Nepal in 2014 and has been part of the acting world since. When asked what inspired her to become an actor, she smiles, “My mother is a artiste. I am inspired by her since my childhood.” Miruna’s mother Shashi Thapa Subba has played in a number of TV serials like Jivandhara, Teenager, Nai Malai Kehi Pani Chahidaina, etc.
Miruna debuted in the Saugat Malla starrer film, Lalpurja. She has since acted in more than six films. Jaari being her latest did wonders at the box office and celebrated 100 days of success.
We ask her, if stardom affects her in any way. She says, “In today’s day and age, I don’t know if an aspirational, elusive, star-like aura is firstly possible or even necessary. People are seeking honesty and authenticity from celebrities. Whether it’s going to the airport with freshly washed hair and not doing my hair and make-up unless it’s absolutely essential, I really am who I am.”
In a conversation with WOW’s Ankita Jain, Miruna talks about the importance of gender equality in the Nepali film industry and how Jaari has taught her to be selective with films. Excerpts:
What does it mean to be a woman in 2023?
Being a woman in 2023 involves navigating a diverse range of opportunities and challenges in all aspects of life whether it’s education, work, or the roles we play in society. Embracing one’s individual identity, challenging stereotypes, advocating for equal rights, and contribution towards building a more inclusive society is important to me.
What does gender equality in Nepali films look like to you?
An ideal scenario for me would be portraying women in diverse and complex roles beyond stereotypes where their stories are represented authentically. Balanced screen time, equitable pay and equal opportunities for women both on and off screen. Ultimately, I would like to see an industry that reflects the realities and contributions of all genders in Nepal.
There is also an underrepresentation of women in leadership roles such as directors, producers and writers. To overcome these barriers, we need writers who create scripts that tells a diverse story fighting the stereotypes, we need to advocate for pay parity and we need to encourage and support women to take on diverse roles in filmmaking both on and off screen.
Have you felt challenged or held back because of your gender and how did you overcome it?
Definitely yes! Mostly with stereotypical portrayals of the characters that I am offered. I overcome them by advocating for better representation and pushing for diverse and empowering narratives. Not all teams are open to suggestions but I have seen a positive change amongst the teams that I have worked with recently.
What to you is the greatest challenge women in Nepali films face today?
The greatest challenge that we face in Nepali films today is the ongoing struggle to break free from traditional gender stereotypes and achieving equal opportunities and representation in a wide range of roles both on screen and behind the scenes.
A lesson on equality you imbibed in life.
I believe in embracing empathy and understanding that everyone’s perspective and experiences are valid. I also believe that we should treat others with the same respect and fairness that we want for ourselves.
How do you use your voice and agency to champion the rights of girls and women?
I always make an effort to educate myself about the ongoing gender issues and inequalities affecting women globally. I believe in leading by example so I try to promote equal treatment and inclusivity in my field of work and treat everyone with respect and dignity.
A cause that is close to your heart and why…
Any cause that promotes education and equal access to knowledge for everyone especially young people. I truly believe that education is crucial for personal growth, development and creating a better society.
What is one thing you would like every little girl to know as she is growing up?
One thing I’d like every little girl to know as she’s growing up is that her potential is limitless and she has the power to define her own path, pursue her passions, and achieve her goals with her determination and hard work. I also want her to remember that her voice matters and her worth is not determined by anyone else but herself.
How can women stand in solidarity with each other?
By actively supporting each other by celebrating each other’s achievements, listening and understanding each other’s experiences and empathising with each other’s feelings and challenges. Coming together to challenge stereotypes and advocate for equal treatment are some ways we can stand in solidarity with each other.
With the huge success of Jaari, will this impact in the selections of films you will be choosing in the coming times?
The amount of love and support that the audiences have showered me after Jaari has definitely made me feel very grateful but has also added a sense of responsibility in me. It has definitely made me more aware of the kind of films and the characters that the Nepali audiences want me to portray. I will be focusing on choosing scripts that will feature more complex and diverse roles.
What is your bond with your co-actor, Dayahang Rai?
I feel truly grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside a brilliant actor like him. I am always in awe of his craft and the depth that he brings to his characters. I see him as my mentor whom I can learn from but also as a supportive and trustworthy co-actor who I can always confide in. We always have a great time on set and I think we share a great chemistry that is apparent on screen.
With Jaari featuring the reality of the women in the Limbu community, what is that one thing you would like to see changed in the coming days?
I would like to see more movies like Jaari featuring stories from all different communities in Nepal and I want them to represent the realities and experiences that woman face or have faced in their communities.
You have been in controversies too lately, how do you deal with them and does social media affect you in these moments?
My priority is always my work and how to make it better so I try to stay focused on my work. I refrain from engaging in social media during those times to protect my mental health and also avoid reading or replying to comments as I do not want the situation to escalate. My greatest support during such times are my family and friends who help me stay calm and collected during such difficult times.
Photographer: Bibek Shrestha
MUA: Sakchhi Maskey
Hair Stylist: Asmita Kandel
Stylist: Markush Tamang
Wardrobe: Sonam Subba Limbu & Neon The Label
Accessories: Silver Handicrafts Nepal