Directed by Karma Tshering, Lhadha-gau is on the usual love story theme but it’s a story told with a different touch. Shot in Sakten and Lingzhi- it tells a story about a yak herder Lhadha-gau, played by Nguldrub Dorji, and his pursuit of a forbidden love that soon culminates in a dangerous confrontation with a social machinery devoted to their suppression.
The highlight of the film are, of course, the Brokpas of Sakten and their costumes which give the two hour film its unique touch. Not forgetting the breathtaking landscapes which gives much of the film’s visual and aural texture, thanks largely to fluid interesting camera shots and smooth editing.
But it’s not only that. The subtlety with which the film tucks in social, culture and traditional elements and insights of this popular yet obscure nomadic tribe into the story- is noteworthy. The “night hunting” scenes, predictably, elicit the most laughter from the audiences but, thankfully, are not vulgar.
The film has interesting characters. Nguldrub Dorji infuses much substance and life into the film, and he along with two other characters, one of whom has an acute weakness for booze and would do anything for it, brings out the funnier side of the film. Karma Chhoden as a new comer is convincing.
Beside the five main characters, the rest of the actors are all Brokpas. And if responses to the film are any indication, the whole package is a job done pretty well although it could have been better with a stronger story narration.
Costing nearly Nu. 2 million, the film took three months to complete and was shot entirely in Sakten and Lingzhi amid cold and rain. Filming entailed long hours of walk about the rugged terrain, carrying heavy equipment, and even took the film crew as far as to the borders of Arunachal Pradesh. Sakten is three days walk uphill from the nearest town, Trashigang.
Speaking to Kuensel, Karma Tshering said that he had tried making a movie profiling the Brokpa populace and its vanishing traditional practices. Semi-nomadic tribesmen and yak herders, Brokpas represent a time and a place that has marched to a different beat. But with modernisation their way of life was on course to a change, Karma said. Their distinctive dresses were already losing out on ghos and kiras.
These and other reasons have inspired Karma Tshering to try and take the film to international film festivals. In fact, he said, his film’s main target was the outside market.
While Lhadha-gau may not make international headlines, it just might inspire local film makers.
By Kencho Wangdi