Saturday, June 25, 2011

Samzang (Review)

Samzang, the latest film screening at Lugar Theatre in Thimphu, brings to Bhutanese cinema goers a new story line and some promising new faces.

The film tells the story of Samzang, the male protagonist played by debut actor Sonam Thinley, who is caught up in the murder of his wife. He runs away from the police, who suspect him of the murder. Although he has witnessed the murder, he is too dazed to recollect the face of the murderer. With the police in hot pursuit, Samzang flees like a guilt-stricken fugitive. All the while, he is in pursuit of the murderer. But he only has a piece of cloth as evidence to help him.

Meanwhile, Samzang comes across Sangay, a single mother bringing up her four-year-old daughter. Her life portrays a typical single Bhutanese woman bringing up her child with lavish love and tenderness amid punishing routines of domestic chores like tending cattle and fields. Sangay, who is played by Rigzin Choden, one of the producers of the film, provides Samzang a haven at her home from the unrelenting police.

The film reaches its climax when Samzang manages to track down the murderer. And like many Bhutanese films, Samzang has a happy ending that leaves viewers happy, but not perturbed or thinking.

Ugyen Pema, one of the contestants of Miss Bhutan 2010, also a newcomer, plays Samzang’s wife. Sonam Thinley and Ugyen Pema have made a good debut.

Besides Rigzin Choden, the film boasts senior actors like Kesang Tobden and Ulap Lekey.

Director-writer Tshering Penjore could have strengthened the story by putting Sangay’s life in a bigger context. Sangay is a character too strong for the context she is put in.

The story flow is at times disrupted by some hanging scenes. And some dialogues become repetitive.

Samzang delivers an imaginative dialogue that immediately captures the attention of viewers. “In the ancient times, humans were born with two heads, four hands and four legs. They became so powerful that the gods cut the humans into half. That’s why, today people are born with one head, two hands and two legs. And that’s why, right after their birth, they look for their other half. Their life is complete only after they find their other half.” Samzang repeats the dialogue once.

The two-hour long film has English subtitles and four songs. The film has been shot in beautiful locations of Thimphu and Bumthang. And it has managed to capture the beauty of Bhutanese landscape.

Most music for the songs have been mixed and produced in Mumbai, India.

Samzang is produced by Benchen Kenpo and Rigzin Choden

From: Bhutan Observer

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kabkab su

Kabkab Su, the latest film screening at Lugar Theatre in Thimphu, reminds the Bhutanese audience of one of Bhutan’s favourite love stories, that of Mitshe Sumgi Drog in which two true, but ill-fated lovers – Alu Penjo and Gensa Lham – live three lifetimes together to find a fulfilling union. It attempts to retell an old story in a modern setting, but it just about manages to become the usual kind of a chick flick that appeals to the average Bhutanese movie-goer.

The film lucidly brings out some common hindrances to flowering of love like wealth and social status. It portrays some common Bhutanese cultural practices around which the institution of marriage revolves.

Kabkab Su opens in a remote Bhutanese village where a man promises his younger sister’s hand in marriage to a relative without the sister’s knowledge. Meantime, a secret love has already blossomed between the sister, Wangmo (played by Tandin Bidha), and a village boy called Tashi (played by Chencho Dorji). Wangmo is the sister of the rich man of the village and Tashi is a poor orphan.

When Wangmo comes to know about the matrimonial arrangement her brother has made for her, she and her lover plan to escape from the village and the forced marriage.

The man of the brother’s choice for Wangmo discovers the clandestine plan and immediately springs into action. On their way of the village, the man waylays and kills both Wangmo and Tashi harshly putting an abrupt end to their love life.

But they are not to be separated. They are bound by the string of fate, and they meet lifetime after lifetime to continue their love.

Just as the love of Wangmo and Tashi, the flow of the story in the film occasionally stumbles and interrupts the otherwise captivating story. Characterization could have been stronger and less confusing.

Within a few months of their death, Wangmo and Tashi are reborn, Wangmo as her brother’s daughter and Tashi as a rich man’s son. And this lifetime, they stand a better chance for a more fulfilling union.

Wangmo and Tashi, who are now reborn as Rinzin and Deki, are haunted by intermittent bitter-sweet dreams about each other’s love and death in the previous life.

When they meet at the Royal Thimphu College as students, similar dreams they share with each other bring Rinzin and Deki together. However, once again their love for each other is up against a series of odds.

Like all Bhutanese films, Kabkab Su is punctuated by song sequences. The two-hour film has eight songs.

Written and directed by Tshering Nidup, the movie has been made at the cost of Nu 1.4 million.