BY MATRAYI JONEJA
The first thing that you notice about “Dreaming Lhasa” is the beautiful backdrop of Dharamshala, the city which is a place of refuge to several thousands of politically shunned and uprooted Tibetans. Once the serene background lulls you down, this film brings Tibet and the life of Tibetans in stark limelight, yet mesmerizes the viewer with an ease and smoothness of the simple yet provocative storyline – completely unusual for a political story.
The film is directed by the married duo Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam. Karma is the principal character of the movie played by Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso. She is also the thread that connects the different fragments of the story together and leads the storyline forward.
A Tibetan born and brought up in New York, Gyatso begins a journey from New York to Dharamshala to make a documentary on former prisoners from Tibet and the exiled community of Tibetans living in Dharamshala, India. It also becomes a journey for her to understand her life and true motivations. She meets Dhondup, an ex-monk who escaped from Tibet to fulfill the desire of his dying mother. Along with Dhondup she travels through North India and meets many former freedom fighters of Tibet who are now leading quieter lives. His passion slowly becomes her passion, and his love for Tibet — his native land — brings her closer to him.
A simple movie about the freedom movement of a spiritual and peaceful community, it is also the story of survival, human emotions and love. “Dreaming Lhasa” begins as a journey of a single woman but it never reaches the end somehow. It stays in the mind as another beautiful reminder of the unstoppable spirit of man, his continuous yearning for his homeland and the extent of his passion that can mobilize any kind of movement against the system we call Government.
“Dreaming Lhasa” will make its premiere in Seattle at the Third Independent South Asian Film Festival, Sept. 27 – Oct. 1, Broadway Performance Hall. Complete schedule is at the Web site www.tasveer.org or by e-mail [email protected].