9 July 2010
I was born and brought up in a simple family, who mostly lived in the south ern part of the country. At the age of five or so, I was exposed to the Indian films, which are popular even today. I remem ber the incidence in Gelephu vividly where I used to sneak into the cinema hall that kept me engaged for several hours. At home, my mother would get sick out of tiring search for me. When Indian films were not known to many Bhutanese, I could pronounce the names of many actors and actresses and I gathered a good vocabulary of Hindi language.
That is how I was groomed and how I became fond of Bollywood and Hollywood films. And by the 1990s, Bhutanese documentaries and films made their way into the Bhutanese movie theatres and started taking shape with strong foundation within a couple of years. Today, Bhutanese films are doing so well in almost all the theatres in the country. We too have some communities outside the country that are genuinely Bhutanese film lovers.
Still, unfortunately, I was not inclined towards Bhuta nese films, and in my memory, I have very few Bhutanese films. The reason behind this was very simple. I judged the Bhutanese films by foreign standards in terms of qual ity. Often, I used to have hot debates with my friends who liked Bhutanese movies. In the end, I used to receive comments such as ‘you poor Bhutanese’, ‘Bhutanese films are unique’ etc.
Today, I am thousands of miles away from my coun try where I am different in so many ways from them, Australians. And homesick, missing family, missing Bhutanese dishes and system became almost part of my life for many weeks. When I was passing through very pain ful moments, only Bhutanese movies, which I got from my friends, give me so much of comfort and keep my tensions at bay. And more than that, in a deeper sense, I could discover the characteristic features of Bhutanese directed films.
I have watched a dozen of Bhutanese films. Indeed, for eign movies are really enter taining and educative in many ways, but they lack a very important substance which I could say is found in the films directed by our Bhutanese directors. Bhutanese mov ies are really unique in their own ways which I have come to realize very recently. How and why? I will leave it for you to find out. For me, happiness is the state of mind that can be achieved through constant practice, and it is independent of materials and surrounding environment that we live in.
Today, we have a very wise philosophy called GNH propounded by the fourth Druk Gyalpo and constantly our policy makers are trying to fit GNH into the system and make it reach every section of the society to achieve balanced growth between economic development and spiritual values.
Australia is a developed country and Australians say 10 years ago, they were happier than they are now. Loss of their happiness is simply due to lack of constant practice to remain happy. They work very hard in exploring new things at the cost of their own culture and identity to become happy.
Bhutan is developing and people are experiencing urban lifestyle. At this juncture, Bhutanese film industry will definitely play a bigger role in making Bhutanese happy because of its uniqueness. Our Bhutanese film directors should explore more Bhuta nese culture, system, feelings and Bhutanese lifestyle for the sake of the societies where culture, tradition and values are fast fading. On the other hand, our government should have faith in the young film industry and should come up with the best policy whereby the film industry could act as a tool to support and propagate GNH principles.
In the communities, school principals, heads of the com munities and parents should provide opportunities to their younger ones to watch Bhutanese films occasionally, which may have lasting posi tive impact in preserving age old traditions and culture. For many, home-made films will lead to the constant practice of happiness in their own ways.
By Chimi Dorji (Teacher)
Balling Higher Secondary School