Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Singye Galeem

Singye Galeem breaks hearts and box-office records, from: BhutanTimes.bt

January 23, 2008-Phuentsholing: A lot of Bhutanese movies are screened at the legendry Mig cinema hall, but no movie has wowed audiences like Singye Galeem is doing. It began showing last Monday on the silver screen and if box office receipts are anything to go by, it is already hitting record levels, said a Mig cinema representative.

A production of Wisdom Pictures, Singye Galeem is Gasa’s legendry saga of timeless love with the protagonists Lamai Singye and Chang Galeem set in modern times. It portrays the eternal nature of love depicting the tragedy of love incomplete. The lovers are predestined to meet again and again in various forms of reincarnation until love itself is consummated.

The director of the film, Tshering Wangyal, denied that the movie was a sequel to the well-known Gasa Lamai Singye.

“It is not about a sequel. What we have done here is stressed on contemporary times. With two movies on this story already released, it was obvious that the movie should look different. That is why doing this one was more challenging,” he said.

One major challenge the filmmakers faced was the need to fill in the lingering memories of people for the earlier picture by making this an original work of their own.

Tshering Wangyal said one of the ways to do that was by introducing a newer cast with fresh faces. To polish the picture with more than a touch of originality, he faced the task of not only making it his own version but more artistically in making the raw cast enact what was a demanding and daunting role.

The film boasts new debutante Tshering Zangmo playing the female lead, with Tshering Phuntsho and Kinley Zangmo also making their acting debuts. Adding color to the cast is the young and vibrant Chencho Dorji who does a good role playing Singye.

The film’s five songs are well scored lending a melodic soothing cushion to the film’s scenes. Indeed, one of the main strengths of the film is its thematic scores.

The comic element of the film has also been a major factor drawing numerous movie buffs. Gyem Dorji (playing a eunuch) and Phurba Thinley (playing Singye’s brother) are at their comical peak sharing an obvious chemistry between the duo. The role Gyem Dorji ferries as a eunuch has been apparently well received by large sections of the audience.

“The homosexual context in the film is something new to Bhutanese society, but it is all commercial and it seems to have worked well. People are enjoying this part. In order to captivate the audience, sometimes you have to add such scenes,” said Tshering Wangyal.

The movie, filmed at an approximate cost of Nu 1.7 million, was shot extensively in different locations at Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Gasa, Wangduephodrang and the tea estates of Dalsingpara, about five kilometers away from Jaigaon.

Meanwhile, audiences exiting the cinema hall are all praises for the movie.

“I watched the first show and it is a very good movie. It is very romantic and touching, the story and the music deserve credit. After watching Hindi movies consistently I am surprised the similarities are not as big as I assumed, but I would still rate it 10 out of 10,” said Sonam Choden, a Phuentsholing shopkeeper.

A government employee said that for a change, the movie was good. “But one main drawback in the movie is that there were lots of thing happening at the same time.”

The producer of the film, Yeshi Tshering, is absolutely pleased with the showings. The film is running on two housefuls and ticket revenues are going through the roof at more than Nu 60,000 a day. This is one tragic love story people seem to buy.

Monday, January 28, 2008

An Englishwoman abroad: Bhutan

Source: Telegraph UK

Lindsay Hawdon experiences the magic of the movies on a smaller scale in the reclusive kingdom of Bhutan.

The banner outside the Luger cinema in Thimpu, Bhutan's capital town, reads, "Dolma Pictures Presents, Muensel".

"It means, true love comes and goes," says Tshewang, a 27-year-old Bhutanese man who's taking me to see the film. We are already late. The foyer feels like a swimming pool.

The walls are covered in cracked, pale-pink tiles. Rivulets of grime run down on to the grey concrete floor. The place stinks of damp clothes. Two teenage boys sit behind an old school desk, collecting money in a metal tin and listening to Bhutanese music rattling from a small cassette-player.

We pay 80 ngultrum - about £1. Tshewang opens a small door at the back of the foyer and we shuffle directly into the auditorium, the screen flickering and silhouetting rows of heads. The cinema is full and hot. People sit on hard, wooden benches.

There is nothing glamorous about the place at all.

Tshewang leads me up a flight of narrow stairs to the gallery and the more luxurious seats, which are orange plastic and look just as uncomfortable as those downstairs. A few fans whirl on the ceiling but do little to temper the heat.

The air smells of hot breath and cigarettes, though in Bhutan smoking is forbidden.

We sit down and I look at the screen. What seems to be a very bad daytime soap is playing and I presume it must be the second feature. The sound is slightly out of sync. I watch as the lead character, a blind teenage boy, stumbles on to the set, a white stick knocking rhythmically on the floor, a pair of oversized dark glasses hiding his eyes.

He starts to sing. He has a beautiful voice. The camera pans round to show the people he is singing to, a large crowd who, like him, are blind. The camera stops on one particularly unfortunate-looking individual, and a ripple of laughter echoes from the audience. Nobody tries to to stifle it.

"He is thanking the blind school for bringing him up," Tshewang explains, making no effort to talk quietly. He is more animated than I have seen him. When I ask him if he comes to the cinema often, he tells me that he does, mostly to see Bhutanese films.

"Is there a drama college in Bhutan?" I ask, slightly confused about who the actors might be. "No there is no school. The producer will sometimes use people off the street, or his friends. There are only four cinemas in Bhutan. It's a small industry."

I watch people wander in and out of the auditorium, talking loudly and rustling sweet wrappers. Meanwhile, the action has moved on. The boy is in a classroom at a college, sitting next to a pretty girl with whom he is obviously in love. The film becomes more bizarre by the moment.

A second boy is vying for the girl's affections and he has just tricked the blind boy into walking into the women's lavatory to humiliate him. The audience is in raptures. Tshewang is clapping his hands and laughing.

As the film goes on and on, the love story slowly unfolding towards a rather stilted happy ending, I realise that this isn't the second feature at all. It is the film itself. It is Muensel. I look at the people around me.

They are transfixed, their faces full of pleasure, their worries forgotten for the night. I glance at the shaft of dust caught in the light of the projector and I realise that the magic of cinema isn't restricted to the multiplexes and blockbusters of Bollywood or the West. Any old space will do; any old film.

  • Lindsay Hawdon travelled with Cox & KingsTravel (020 7873 5000; www.coxandkings.co.uk), which offers tailor-made trips and private journeys to Bhutan. A 13-night escorted group tour costs from £2,775 per person, including flights, accommodation, meals, guided excursions and transfers.
  • Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    A Star Lost

    Heath Ledger 1980-2008
    Great Ledger's Films.
    1. "10 Things I Hate About You"
    2. "A Knight's Tale"
    3. "Brokeback Mountain"
    4. "I'm Not There"
    5. "Lords of Dogtown"
    6. "Monster's Ball"
    7. "The Patriot"
    8. "The Brothers Grimm"
    Found dead in his apartment amid sleeping pills on 22 January 2008. He was 28.
    May you be liberated!

    Monday, January 21, 2008

    Bhutan: Gross National Happiness (Modernization)

    Producers: Journeyman Pictures
    Release Date: 2000
    Duration: 20 min
    Format: 16mm, 35mm, Video, web
    Languages: English
    Youth Media: No
    Educational Media: Yes

    Film Description

    Bhutan is choosing to travel on a path not based on economics. "We are not interested in gross national product, but in gross national happiness," is the doctrine of the young king. His unorthodox approach is not anti-technology. They want to modernize, but on their own terms. A giggling family gathers for their first taste of television. Smiling triumphantly, a Buddhist monk explains that TV must be an illusion of an illusion.

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