Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dolma - A Tibetan Film Made In India

“Dolma” is a 17 minutes short film shot in Tibetan Settlement Camp in Bylakuppe 85 Kms away from Mysore in Karnataka. It is one of its kind short film. All the actors and voices used in this film are Tibetan. The main cast of this film is Deden who played the character of a small innocent girl Dolma who wrote a secret letter to God. She wants to deliver it to God. However, she has a problem. She has no address of God. She sets out in the pursuit of finding God's address and send this letter to him. She approaches her family members and asks for God's address. Busy mom insists her to finish her homework and concentrate on school than this kind of unnecessary conversation. Father, orders her to pay attention to her mother's advice. Grandfather, advices her to work on her goodness before she can even think of sending a letter to God. Sister on other hand totally ignores her.

Distracted by the letter and her persistence to send the letter to God, she misses her school bus. She is disappointed and now has whole day to think about what to do with the letter. She meets a Muslim Priest, a Monk and a Church Pastor. They all fail to give her God's address. Her patience gives away. She breaks into crying. And then, story reaches the climax. Could she ever deliver her letter to God? To find out this you need to watch the film.

Cast and Crew:

Dolma: Deden

Mother: Kalsang 

Father: Rinchen Tashi

Grandfather: Samdup

Sister: Choesang

Church Pastor: Phuntsok

Muslim Priest: Sonam Wangdu

Buddhist Monk: Rinchen Tashi 

Post Master: Ngawang Samdup

Language Coordinator: Rinchen Tashi

Cinematographer: Bernard S Davis

First Director: Rosario

Producers: Sara Jim Sanjay / Raj Kosaraju / Monty Montgomery

Story/Screenplay/Direction: Jim Sanjay

Studio: SIMPL (Shepherd India Media Private Limited)

 A note from the Director:

My name is Jim Sanjay and am the Director of this movie Dolma. When I was 21 years old, I used to get fascinated by Tibetans who own shops in Shimla (Himachal Pradesh). They were different people. They talk differently, they dress differently. Something was was very intriguing about them. I tried to make friends with them but, they were too shy to open up with me. In pretext of starting conversation with them I use to buy stuff that I never need. For example, once I purchased many pair of shoes from them with my college fees and had to re sell them to recover my money. That was the only encounter I had with Tibetans
Fast forward 22 years, I stumbled upon Tibetan one more time on my way to Coorg in Karanataka. I could not stop myself to talk to them one more time. Results were same as it were 22 years before. They refused to open up. I gave them my phone no but, nobody returned my calls. 

By now It was quite clear to me that Tibetans are very shy in nature and they do not mix around too much with outside people. They are strong believers of family values and community. I started doing research on them and I was shocked to discover that their belief are total mix of Hinduism and Buddhist teaching. They believe in KARMA theory. They also believe in Evolution Theory. Their pillar of religion is “Reincarnation” and “Enlightenment”. The biggest shock came when I found out that Tibetan do not have concept of “God”. They do not understand God as I do. For them God makes no or very little sense. So, I wrote “letter to God” which one year later became a Tibetan short film Dolma.

Because of the short film Dolma, I have a great friend Rinchen Tashi who is an owner of a Tibetan Restaurant in Chennai. Rinchen Tashi himself is a writer, Actor and a poet. He became interested in the film and worked with me as a language Coordinator. He travelled with me to the Tibetan Settlement Camps in Bylakuppe, Karnataka. He is the one who took me straight in the hearts of Tibetans. This is tour first film together. I am so looking forward to work with him again.

After, organizing a premier show of Dolma for Tibetan students in Chennai in the coming months. I would be looking forward to take this short film to all the Tibetans settled all over India.

I would be looking forward to take this short film to all the Tibetans settled all over India and overseas. The International release will be during December 2012.

I also briefed my friend Raj Kosaraju who is a technocrat from Chicago and also a producer of this Tibetan film “Dolma” and who has immediately responded to the story and decided we will go for it. Raj had visited Bhutan a couple of times and is also planning to make a Bhutanese movie by the end of this year.  Another good movie in Afghanistan is also being planned during early next year. It has a great story. It will be a great movie says Raj. Monty Montgomery who is the CEO of a company is from Chennai and is overseeing Indian as well as the Middle east Operations based at Doha Qatar. Monty is also funding this movie.

A note about Tibet and the Movie which inspired me- Raj Kosaraju

By far, the best place to see an English language movie in San Jose is at Multiplaza Escazu.The establishment resembles a typical mall in the United States. I watched this movie in San Jose, Costa Rica in November of 1997.“Seven Years in Tibet” allows viewers to observe the Buddhist faith, but it is not “preached” or glorified as the “true” religion. Harrier doesn’t portray a religious man, and he is often found relying on his own skill and knowledge in life. While the language was not really offensive, you will be shocked to see what two hungry men will eat! Historically, the writers took a bit of poetic license in portraying the Chinese invasion as happening while Heinrich Harrier was in Tibet. (In actuality, it took place a few years after he left.) The Dalai Lama was also shown to be an outsider of Tibet, observing the Tibetan’s culture and lifestyle as a visitor would see them. Obviously, he was a Tibetan and was not an outsider as was shown. Brad Pitt was excellent in the entire movie. I liked watching him.

Incredibly, the filming took place in South America but looked so authentic as to astound even the most observant critics! The supporting cast is commendable and many of the Tibetans are very lovable from young to old. For a glimpse into Eastern Life, a historically motivated script, and breathtaking God-given scenery, spend 2+ hours observing “Seven Years in Tibet”.

I really enjoyed the movie. The people were very kind and compassionate. It was the first time that I felt I should do something for Tibet. I remember having read about Sadhu Sunder Singh who was a missionary from India and did extensive work in Tibet. I just wondered if I could go to Tibet. One day I will...when they have Tibet back. My prayers are with all Tibetans all over the world for a free Tibet.

About Tibet:  A country which I love to go.....

What comes to mind when you think of Tibet? Plateaus and shepherds? Or an isolated and unchanging lifestyle?

I had the chance of interacting with a few of them. Intellectual, motivated, passionate. Introspective, earnest, thoughtful. These are descriptors of the students of Dharamsala, young people who have left their beloved Tibet to find freedom in India. Along with their keen intellect, they exhibit an amazing capacity for kindness, caring, and compassionate thinking. Their incredible generosity of spirit is a gift to all who come in contact with them, and their wholehearted faith in the future is inspirational.

Your stories of your lives and your thoughts on the future of your country are expressive and beautiful sketches of the Motherland, a frank recounting of tragedies for those left behind; they are brutal narrations of terrifying escape over dark snow mountains, and yet they are also forgiving and lovingly bright visions of the future. You, even in exile, are holding fast to a dream. You will see freedom. It will come. Free Tibet.



Raj Kosaraju

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