Filmmaking and entertainment channels have seen a gradual growth in the state of Sikkim with the entry of many young directors, producers, and artists. Works of indigenous creative artists are admired by a large number of audiences, and the scenic landscapes have also added charm. To encourage the filmmakers, the state government sets to provide a subsidy of Rs. 20 lakhs and kind to the local filmmakers and a subsidy up to Rs.1 Cr to whoever shots mega-budget films in the Himalayan state.
On September 29 in Delhi, LN Sharma Minister for Information and Public Relations, Government of Sikkim announced that the second edition of the Sikkim Global Film Festival will be held from December 10 to December 14. The five-day Film Festival is scheduled to be organized at the Eco-Heritage Film village at Yangang, South Sikkim, and Tsogmo Lake with an objective to promote Sikkim as a film shooting destination and a potential film tourism hub in a location catalog titled “100 Film Shooting Destinations in Sikkim”
Addressing the national media on September 29, State Film Production Board (SFPB) chairperson, Pooja Sharma stated that, “The Chief Minister of Sikkim, Prem Singh Tamang has always given importance to the promotion of Sikkim as a film shooting destination and a potential film tourism hub. The Chief Minister has laid great emphasis on providing ample opportunities to the filmmakers and artists of the state as well as the country.”
“The Sikkim government has launched a Sikkim Film Policy last year to ease the process of film making. The five-day event will have an inauguration ceremony, felicitation program, film screening, producers and investors meet’, fashion show, cultural exhibition, master class with National and Regional level film technical experts, art performances at proposed Eco-heritage film Village site at Yangang, South Sikkim and Tsogmo Lake. The film festival will also have international and national filmmakers participating in it.” She added.
Chairperson Sharma announced that the entries are open for feature film screening tribal and regional film competition, short film competition, one-minute video competition with ‘ Global Peace’ theme and five-minute video competition with the theme of ‘Battling the Pandemic’.
In addition, the chairperson informed that the last date of the entries is November 15; the rules of the competitive film are that films must carry English Subtitles, films made in the past three years and short films should not exceed 30 minutes. Sharma invited filmmakers from India and abroad to participate in this upcoming film festival.
Tribeny Rai, an independent filmmaker from Sikkim, completed her diploma in direction and screenplay writing from Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, India. She has represented Sikkim at various film festivals, for instance, 37th Fajr International Film Festival (FIFF) 2019, held at Tehran wherein she bagged the second-best film in the ‘short film idea’ category.
Rai narrating her journey stated, “my mother used to tell us stories every night before going to sleep. Until I went to boarding school, the tradition continued. While she narrated; I visually imagined the setup and gave life to those characters. I think my journey as a filmmaker subconsciously had begun then, but later on, I made a conscious choice of perusing my higher studies in direction and screenplay writing.”
“In the span of last two-three years, the scenario has drastically changed. There are a lot of projects being shot in our region by our people and others. There are a couple of productions houses and individuals that are setting the bar higher and regularly producing quality projects.” Rai believes that we should take cues from states like Kerala, West Bengal, Manipur. “To cultivate film culture, we must create and showcase films that aim to help foster a healthy and fervent space for public engagement and meaningful community discussion”.
Aadarsh Chettri, co-founder of AS Presentations said, “Directing has always been an essential part of my filmmaking journey, though I have not directed a feature film, I have restricted it to a short- films, most of the challenges I faced is obviously technically, as we lack with equipment’s and other technical accessories, the film is never complete. Sikkim till date has no such film industry, but we are working hard to establish one and in future, if all goes well then it would be a huge achievement for the state as Sikkim is very rich in its ethnic culture which needs to be featured and on the other hand talented artists will get a platform to showcase their ability and creativity to the world.”
Bkey Agrawal, an actor, director and stand-up comedian from Sikkim, was acquainted with filmmaking when he was asked to act in a film for his brother’s university project in 2011. After this quick brush, he developed a hidden interest in acting and filmmaking, leading him to direct his first short film titled “Jyoti”. His most recent work has been significant to Sikkim’s art and culture community, as ‘Mohan ra Madan’ became the State’s first LGBTQIA+ short film.
“There are lots of talents in this field, short films, music videos come up every day, but due to lack of exposure the professionalism lacks, and the end results are always not satisfactory, if one wants to build their career in this field then they have to take film making seriously rather than just a hobby.” Says Agrawal.
“I think that there should be a convention wherein all the artists including directors, producers, and others should come under one roof so that the artists can get a platform to showcase their ability and talent, as it would act as a bridge between the artists and the producers which it seems are missing at the current situation. In the future, there is a high chance in the creation of the film industry as now due to social media platforms many creative people are able to create great content, I would say the future in this field will bloom but behind it, there should be a lot of grooming and hard work”. He added
Biswas Timshina, a comedian and a YouTuber from Sikkim, has 100k subscribers on the video-sharing platform. He has created many significant works including ‘Moonlight’, currently screening on Hot star and ‘Black and White rules’ where he worked as an Associate Director and is streaming on Sony LIV.
“The seed was planted during engineering. Just going around with a camera, making documentaries, short films, so I applied for SRFTI twice, got rejected both times. So, I studied film editing at an institute but left the course midway because they weren’t teaching filmmaking, just how to use the software. Then came Pahuna. I wanted to work on that film, so I messaged everyone involved with the project on Facebook and one person replied, they were looking for interns but seeing that I had written books in the past, I was given the task of writing the dialogues”, recounts Timishina.
“So, I ended up doing the dialogues and wrote two songs along with my friend Peeyush. Then I decided to help with the post-production of the film in Mumbai and ended up working in the big city for 3 years. Got associated with Abbas Tyrewala and Paakhi Tyrewala as an assistant writer doing AD work for ads and shorts on the sides. So, from the first movie itself, fell in love with the process of film-making, and now I don’t want to do anything else.”
He adds, “The Nepali population across the Globe are loyal when it comes to acknowledging art. The only thing a filmmaker has to do is create quality products and tell honest stories. The best example I can think of is Dhokbu, a well-made film that told an honest story, and it did well. As a storyteller, the only thing in your control is your story. The audience will see through your hard work and a film will self-promote itself.”
By Sheetal Kharka. The author is a freelance writer. She can be contacted at [email protected]