Dor Bahadur Bista, one of Nepal’s most controversial intellectuals in modern times, disappeared without trace in 1996. Beginning as a field assistant to well-known Austrian anthropologist Fuerer Haimendorf, with whom he had strained relations, he was largely self-trained. He wrote several books, among them People of Nepal (1964) and the controversial Fatalism and Development: Nepal’s Struggle to Modernise (1990).
Fatalism and Development, written in English, argued Nepal didn’t develop because of Bahunbaad or Brahminism, by which he meant the values of fatalism and hierarchy, imported from India’s caste culture, which had eclipsed local more egalitarian value systems. Himself a high caste, his views created acrimony, particularly among other high castes. He moved to the remote western district of Jumla, where he established the Karnali Institute to put into practice his beliefs and challenge the Kathmandu elite. The film tracks his life and beliefs and tries to understand his sudden disappearance.
His most recent films are ‘Men at Work’, part of a South Asian Masculinities project, and ‘Castaway Man’, part of a South Asian Project on justice. Tseten has been recipient of grants from Busan, IDFA and the Sundance Institute for his films. He wrote the original screenplay for the feature “Mukundo”, which was Nepal’s entry to the academy awards, and “Karma”. Before filmmaking Tseten wrote and edited and was associate editor of Himal Magazine in its early years. He is a graduate of Dr Graham’s School in India and Amherst College and Columbia University in the US.