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.