Wednesday, January 20, 2010

the faraway girl

source: bhutanobserver

First look: The Far Away Girl

19 January 2010

Love knows no boundary. This is the theme of the next Bhutanese flick, The Far Away Girl, which will be screened at the Mig Cinema hall in Phuentsholing from January 20.

Directed by Sonam Yeshey, the film is about two people from two different countries, different cultural background, and different ways of living falling in love.

Rigsel is a villager in Bhutan. Priya from Kolkata in India comes to his village as a teacher. The two fall in love, and live the best time of their lives together until Priya returns to her country.

The story takes a turn when Rigsel, accompanied by his friend, leave for Kolkata in search of Priya. The duo is able to find Priya but get entangled in a mysterious murder case. However, in the end, all mysteries are solved and the lovers are united.

The film is a complete entertainment. Filled with songs and fight sequence, the film has some action stunts that have never been seen in Bhutanese films. In the last action scene, some 10 people come to hold the protagonist but he runs and jumps over them kicking the main villain. A stunt master and a few stunts men were hired from West Bengal, especially for the action scenes.

The music in the film is fresh. Modern Bhutanese tunes are mixed with familiar Indian tunes to give catchy tunes. There are six songs, including one Hindi and Dzongkha mixed song and one boedra song.

According to the script writer, Lobzang Dorji, through Rigsel’s life, the film portrays a typical village life in Bhutan. The film highlights some culture and tradition of the country. Priya is invited to join a Thrue celebration where there is an archery match amid traditional songs and dances.

The film shows subtle differences between India and Bhutan. It is also a tribute to Bhutan-India friendship, he said, adding that, through the film, they want to take entertainment to a new height.

More than half of the two hour-film has been shot in Kolkata and some part in Punakha and Phuentsholing. The film was shot in 60 days.

Debut actor and producer, Sonam Rinchen Tshering, plays the role of Rigsel and Choki Wangmo Tenzin, plays Priya. They are supported by Jalab Laki and Tshering Yuden. While most of the people on the set were first timers, some 15 Indian actors from West Bengal were also hired. The film was well received by the review board because the whole team was new.

A love story with drama, suspense, action, fun and adventure, The Far Away Girl is refreshing and not to be missed.

By Tandin Pem

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Azha Namgay: The Little Big Star


15 January, 2010 - He never thought that he’d one day become an actor. But when the 3’ 4” tall Namgay Phuntsho was asked to play a comic role, Azha Namgay, as he is more popularly known today, decided to take a chance.
That was two years ago. Today, with eight films under his belt, the 50-year old has fans across the country, and in Arunachal Pradesh, for his comedian performances. “I thank Lhamo Drukpa for having faith in me,” he says of the director, who gave him his first break. “Without her help, I’d be nothing.”

Azha Namgay never went to school. When he was first offered the role of Seday, he was in his village Dathong Goenpa in Punakha with his elder brother and sister.

Seday, he says, turned his life around. He began getting more offers and appeared in films like Sherubtse Ga Me Ga and Seldrup Satharingsa, Sem Dha Sem and Ya Ma Song.

“I love this profession and I swear I’ll keep trying harder each day,” he says. Azha Namgay’s hobbies include sleeping and playing the flute. Because of his height, Azha Namgay says that he faces problem in choosing his clothes and goes to the children’s section instead. “Before I used to hesitate a lot while facing people, fearing they might tease me, but I don’t anymore,” he says. “Now I tease my co-actors instead.”

Azha Namgay plans to marry soon. “I’ve a dream to have at least two kids,” he says. He is currently working on Rinchen Namgyel’s “Tashi gi Metse,” which will be released this January.

His friends love him. Says Jalab Leki, a supporting actor, “He’s old but still like a child.”

By Kinley Wangmo

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bhutanese animation takes its first baby steps


28 December, 2009 - 28 December, 2009 -Mr Little Thrompon, carrying a basket on his back, goes around the city and popular picnic spots picking litter and talking to people on waste disposal.
He is the main character of a short animated programme that has been frequently broadcast on the BBSC channel in recent months.

Ap Naka, another animated character, also got his share of time on air in the wake of the recent earthquakes that hit eastern Bhutan. Ap Naka is targeted at creating awareness on safe construction practices and earthquake safety tips.

Globally animation is associated with blockbuster movies and televised series aimed at a universal audience. In Bhutan the emerging animation industry is taking off in the form of public awareness campaigns.

Since ‘Oye Penjor’, an information and communication bureau’s (ICB) awareness campaign on HIV/AIDS was first broadcast on BBSC in 2005, various government agencies, as well as NGOs, have turned to animation as a means to inform and educate the people.

In Bhutan, it is being used to create awareness on ozone depletion, garbage disposal and littering, and teenage pregnancy.

Having real people acting out for awareness campaigns isn’t as attractive as using animated characters, says Chand Bhattaria, an artist working with Green Dragon media (former KLK anImagine). “Children as well as older people are curious when they see the characters wearing Bhutanese attire and speaking the national language.”

Clients and animators also said that it was more effective than pamphlets and brochures, which only reached the literate masses.

“While posters and brochures are still used for public awareness, animation gets the attention,” said Tenzin Choden, assistant program officer working with department of disaster management.

The department invested in one of the two segments of Ap Naka to raise awareness on earthquake safety tips. The other segment was on safe construction practices developed by Druk Vision studio for standard and quality control authority.

“Even small kids get the message quickly,” she said. “The characters speak in Dzongkha and there are English subtitles too.”

Tenzin Choden said that the animation awareness programmes were also screened during trainings, mock drills in schools, and during conference tea breaks.

But producing these segments is extremely time-consuming, say animators. “To work on a few seconds takes about a week and a two-minute segment takes about three months,” said Pema Tshering, proprietor of Druk Vision studio.

“Initially clients weren’t aware of this, but they’re beginning to understand and are now willing to pay more,” he said. “And financially, if we look from first project till now, the scope has increased.”

Druk Vision studio was the first to produce animated videos. The first animation Pema Tshering worked on was that of a Beetle dance. His first awareness campaign video was Oye Penjor.

The cost of production varied from project to project, depending on the scripting, number of characters and subject creation like flying creatures or four-legged animals.

Druk Vision studio produces computer animation, where the pictures, including characters and background and motion, are developed on computer to produce 3D animation.

The other type of animation technique used by Bhutanese animators is cel animation, where the pictures are first drawn by hand on paper and then uploaded to the computer to produce motion. Green Dragon media normally uses cel animation.

Green Dragon media has produced about 20 2D and 3D animation features.

Animators say they need a lot of patience and dedication to bring fluidity to body movements and facial expression. A single second of animation requires about 24 frames, each frame slightly different from the other to give the subject continuity and motion. “Consistency is the key,” said Pema Tshering.

Pema Tshering was not into animation as a child. “I was living in the east and there was no television,” he said. But, after he started his architecture course after Class XI,I he got acquainted with software, which could handle 3D visuals. “I learnt the possibilities and capabilities of the software,” he said.

Now he usually watches animated movies like Shrek and Ice Age, does online research and reads books on animation. Pema Tshering said he’s now become more observant of how people walk, talk, their facial expressions, which were all important for animators.

“The most fascinating thing about animation is that you can bring out and give life to something you imagine on a computer,” he said.

Chand Bhattarai, an artist working with Green Dragon media, was interested in animated movies since childhood, but has had little exposure to animation techniques. The most difficult part of animation was giving life to his drawings.

“For animation you should know the anatomy and physics, which includes how subjects walk or move and how gravity works,” he said. “Initially I found it difficult, because there were no consistency between frames.” It took Chand about a year to finish one of the first projects he worked on. It was a HIV/AIDS awareness project, which was about 15 minutes long.

The proprietor of Green Dragon media, Kinga Sithupm said that while they were interested and had the capacity to make animated series of Bhutanese folk tales for children, but there were no sponsors. “Moreover animation is more expensive than conventional movie making,” he said.

While animation in Bhutan is yet to be firmly established, neighbouring countries like India have also stepped into mainstream animation industry, producing animated series like Little Krishna, Chota Bheem, and The New Adventures of Hanuman, and movies like Roadside Romeo (co-produced with Walt Disney pictures) in 2008, featuring Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan’s voice.

Bhutanese animators are at the moment unsure of the future of Bhutanese animation.

By Kinley Wangmo

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Director with the Midas Touch

Source: Kuenselonline

24 December, 2009 - If you meet Tshering Wangyel, 37, on the streets of Thimphu or anywhere else in the country, he might as well be another stranger. But if one were to talk about the list of movies he has directed, most would recognise him for his work and contribution to the Bhutanese film industry.
The director is successful and famous because of the list of good films to his name. He believes in working hard with passion and sincerity. And he is rightfully the man behind the success of popular films like Tshering Meto, Gasa Lamai Singye II and the Golden Cup and stars like heartthrob Cencho Dorji, charmer Tshering Phuntshok, and chocolate boy Karma Choechhong.

A movie freak since childhood, Tshering Wangyel, recalls how he bunked classes to watch first shows of new movies released at Lugar theatre. “My family and friends believed that I’d become an actor one day,” he said. Tshering Wangyel also had a knack for stage shows and stand-up comedy, in which he participated as a child.

But it was Gasa Lamai Singye, the first movie he watched, which inspired him to try something new. Taking risk by becoming an independent filmmaker, he directed his first film “Rewaa” and the audience loved it. But, despite that, Tshering Wangyel said there were some things, which were done wrong, and that he’d learnt from those mistakes. “I’m not ashamed of my first film though,” he said.

So far, he has directed 20 films, some of which include Seldrup, Szhendhen and Home Sweet Home. His next film “Sha Dang Simo”, starring Cencho Dorji and Lhaki Dolma will be released this December.

Tshering Wangyel will also bring to the Bhutanese audience a flash of Bollywood idol coupled with Miss Bhutan beauties. His movie, “Sem Gawai Tasha”, currently underway, stars Kelly Dorji, Miss Bhutan Tshokey Tshomo Karchung, Cencho Dorji, Karma Choechhong and Shelkar Choden. “It’s the most challenging film I’ve worked on because the international and professional actor, Kelly Dorji, is working on it and I’m having my fingers crossed,” he said.

Professionalism and better equipment are what the director strives for. He also hopes for an acting school in Bhutan, because most actors don’t come from professional acting background. “Very few have done stage shows before and some are born with the talent,” he said.

Tshering Wangyel did his B.Sc. in Agriculture from Netherlands and worked in the ministry of agriculture till 2000. After that he went to UK for further studies in film directing and editing. Then, he joined BBS as a TV producer, where he produced a whopping 130 music videos.

For all his success, he considers himself blessed and fortunate. And his plans for now are to continue working hard. “I’ll continue to make commercial films if I’m not kicked out from the industry,” he said, with a laugh.

By Kinley Wangmo

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The year in Bhutanese cinema

Source: Bhutan Observer

From releasing Sungchop Magmi, which took six years in the making, to Return of Ata Khawjay to receiving a gold medal from His Majesty, 2009 was an exciting year for the burgeoning Bhutanese movie industry.

In total, 18 films were produced, out of which only five made it to the theatres in Thimphu. Karma Entertainment’s Sem da Sem and Dechen Pem’s Sem ge Damtshe were among the commercially successful films of the year.

Sem da Sem also became the Bhutanese film to be screened at the Palace and was reportedly watched and appreciated by His Majesty.

Sem ge Jurwa was well received by the review board as it carried a lot of social messages.

Far away girl, produced by a new team, was also well received. O ther films like Chorten Kora, which is based on nomadic lifestyle, City of Dreams, which dwells on the urban lifestyle, 4 Friends, a film by a woman director, Karma Deki, were also released last year.

The last film to be released was Sergi Zhongm, which centres on livestock and rural-urban migration. While all the films were produced within the range of Nu 1.5 to Nu 2 million on average, the producer of Return of Ata Khawjay claims to have spent more than Nu 2 million.

Actor Chencho Dorji dominated as the male protagonist in most of the films. The 27-year-old actor, who acted in five films last year, says he gave his best in every film. I n 2008, a number of female actors had been introduced but in 2009, senior female actors stole the limelight.

Tshering Wangyel directed four films, the maximum number in the year. The year also saw the making of a big budget film by NT Sound and Vision starring the Bhutanese Bollywood actor, Kelley Dorji.


According to Motion Picture Association of Bhutan (MPAB), the Bhutanese cinema’s greatest achievement in the past year was dominating the local market not only in Thimphu, but also in the southern region. Earlier, Bollywood films had dominated local theatres in the south.

The gold medal awarded to the association by His Majesty was another achievement. “Getting recognition from the highest level was indeed an achievement,” said Sherub Gyeltshen, the general secretary of MPAB.


The shortage of theatres continues to ail the industry. To ease the crunch, MPAB started a system whereby a film cannot be screened for The year in Bhutanese cinema more than 22 days.

However, with the upcoming theatres in Chubachu and twin theatre in Olakha in Thimphu, the problem is expected to be addressed.

The film industry is also lacking training. Even after 10 years of establishment, it hardly gets human resource development training from the government.

However, the concern is expected to be addressed because the cabinetassured the industry that the government would supportit in various ways.Meanwhile, the MPAB is yet to gain industry status.

But it is positive about the industry’s future. “We expect a better paved way now on,” said Sherub Gyeltshen.

By Tandin Pem