Bhutan seeks Bollywood help in setting up film studio

New Delhi: Bhutan has sought the help of Indian film industry and the government to set up a film studio in capital Thimphu in a bid to turn its fragile movie - making industry into a viable socio-cultural sector.

To help take forward the project, South Asia Foundation Chairman Rahul Barua is going to Bhutan on May 2 to hold detailed discussions with Bhutanese filmmakers and government officials at the invitation of the government of the Himalayan kingdom.

"I have been invited by the Bhutan government to attend the national film awards function. I will take this opportunity to have detail discussions with the filmmakers and officials of that country regarding the proposal to set up a film studio in Thimphu", Barua told PTI.

He said the Foundation has been asked to prepare a master plan to set up the infrastructure for Bhutan`s film industry and the Bhutan government has already written to Indian government seeking help to set up the studio while the latter has asked South Asia Foundation to start the talks.

According to Barua, the idea of a film studio was first put forward to him by a delegation of Bhutanese filmmakers, including that country`s first woman director Karma Deki, and officials during the South Asian Film Festival in Panaji last November.

Barua said he has already spoken to Indian filmmakers Subhash Ghai, Shyam Benegal, Madhur Bhandarkar, Sharmila Tagore, Sudhir Mishra and Mahesh Bhatt and all of them have agreed to visit Bhutan and help develop its film industry.

Barua has also sought the help of the National School of Design, Channel I of Bangladesh, a leading private film production company, and the Film Studies Department of Deikin University in Melbourne, Australia, which he had visited recently, which have promised to send their personnel to help Bhutan`s film industry.

Barua said South Asia Foundation would also explore the possibilities of Indian filmmakers using the enchanting locales of Bhutan for shooting and using Bhutanese actors and technical personnel in Bollywood. In this context, he cited the presence of actors and technical hands from Nepal in Mumbai.

Bhutan's film industry at present is very weak and there is hardly any movie theatre in that country, Barua said adding most of the feature and short films made there are shown at makeshift venues like schools across the country. All films in Bhutan are made in DVD format because there are just 7 cinema halls in a country with seven lakh population.

The absence of proper screening outlets not only delays release of the new films but also frustrates new directors.

The lack of a proper distribution network is also a challenge for Bhutan's filmmakers, Barua said adding it takes a lot of time for producers to get back the money invested in the making of a film.

No wonder why Bhutan has made just 89 films since the first feature film "Gasa Lamai Singye" directed by Ugyen Wangdi was made in 1989.

Most of the films in Bhutan are based on mythology and folklore but of late social issues impinging on family relationships have also become the subject matter of the movies.

PTI

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