Capturing Tibet on celluloid,
CNN-IBN, January, 01, 2006
Iram Mirza

Be it the Brad Pitt starrer Seven Years in Tibet, or Martin Scorsese's widely applauded Kundun, the land of the Dalai Lama has captured the fancy of many a filmmakers.

The latest in the league of those capturing Tibet on celluloid are filmmakers Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin. In the film, Dreaming Lhasa, that was screened at the India Habitat Centre, the filmmakers give us an inside look into the troubled state. Dreaming Lhasa - a title which could easily brand this film as yet another outcry joining the chorus for a free Tibet. But there's a catch.

The film takes a detour from the usual aggressive 'liberate Tibet' theme and presents a subtle human story. Set in the backdrop of the freedom movement and sprinkled with some pleasantly surprising Indian elements, the movie promises to be 'different'. The film is about the journey of a Tibetan filmmaker from New York, who comes to Dharamshala to shoot a documentary. But instead, she ends up joining a Tibetan refugee in his mission to fulfill his dying mother's last wish.

And it is this journey that brings out the turbulent Tibet to the forefront. The film highlights the identity crisis of young Tibetans, their aspirations and their love for their nation.

Directed by veteran documentary makers Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin, the film is scheduled to have a limited theatrical release in India. But why a limited screening? "These kind of feature films are quite difficult to sell," rationalises Sonam.

Sonam and Sarin, a husband-wife filmmaking duo, are both Delhi University grads and have a body of well-received documentaries behind them. Their first fiction film, shot primarily in Dharamsala and Dehradun, has been funded by Hollywood star, Richard Gere, and The Last Emperor producer, Jeremy Thomas.

Premiered in Toronto late last year before travelling to numerous other festivals, Dreaming Lhasa has been raking in a lot of appreciation in the film circles.