A good journey but sights still need work, that’s the Bhutanese film factory

Fans screaming and mooning at the sight of actor Tandin Bidha or Chencho Dorji, singers Namgay Jigs or Ugyen Panday forced to take on a disguise to avoid passionately charged mobs of female or male fans hungry after a close-up shot with them.

That, is currently, not the scene in Bhutan unlike what usually is in the idol-worshipping Hollywood and Bollywood countries.

Celebrity status and stalking fans aside, the Bhutanese film industry in itself has come a long way without any visibly significant support from any entities. And today, it has carved a niche for itself with a sincerely avid movie fan base.

Some of the melodious songs from the films are favorites with both the young and the old. Comic lines from incorrigibly stubborn artists like Phuba Thinley are conversation starters and ice-breakers in many gatherings. All in all the fledgling film industry is a brand and an image in its own manner.

Gone are those days when hardly one or two movies were produced in a year with boring story lines. Today more than 15 movies a year are produced. The viewers most times are confused as to which movies to watch.

The film makers, they are an enthusiastic genre, on a path to structure themselves in the mold of fine filmmakers closer home in India and overseas in Hollywood.

Many in the market possess professional training in various areas of filmmaking while a happy few do it out of fun and as hobbies. Of course, the money to be earned is not really a bad proposition either.

The per capita income aside, annual productions In terms of sheer number probably makes the Bhutanese film industry amongst the most prolific filmmaking nation in the world today.

Last year 29 films were produced while this year till date 11 movies were produced.

A veteran director Palden Dorji who directed more than 26 movies said that the number of makers is more than the number of viewers.

An actor and a director, Tshering Gyeltshen, said “We are nowhere near creating our own identity as a filmmaking nation. As one of the older members and someone who takes pride in being a pioneer, I accept this blame fully myself. We are also very weak in content. Our distribution and exhibition system is in absolute shambles”.

“We lack a strong, vibrant, central organization. Unless these rather abysmal situations are corrected, we are probably just going to be an also-ran,” he added.

On a brighter note the biggest achievement probably is that without any support from any quarters, the local film industry has created and still creates huge employment.


 Sonam Wangmo

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