By Jigme Ugen*
A pre-release screening of Tibetan film Karma was held in St. Paul by the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress of Minnesota (with support from Ex-Mussoorie Minnesotans) to generate funds for the ‘Home Away from Home’ project. Even with the temperature cracking a record-breaking 102 degrees Fahrenheit, more than 300 locals attended the show to support the project.
The film ‘Karma’, shot in the remote region of Mustang in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal follows the journey of a Buddhist nun on a mission. The film’s cinematography is vastly effectual and original, providing extreme close-ups and wide shots of dusty Mustang roads and capturing the rich Tibetan color in all its Technicolor vibrancy and canned energy.
Credited with no fewer than three hats on this project (original story, producer and director), Tsering Rhitar Sherpa cleverly mixes magic realism with a certain fairytale sensibility, which has been the hallmark of his career. Sherpa in an interview said, “It is sort of a quest in which I have invited the viewers to see things in a different way and then may be some questions may arise. The film has no answers to any of the questions; each individual has to find the answer for himself/herself. So in a way the film is a stimuli”.
‘Karma’ is a film about the influences of religion, fanaticism, absolution, friendship, and love on identity. It successfully illustrates the tug-of-war that exists between knowledge and wisdom; no conversation in the film passes without further unfolding of spiritual characters and the didactic nature of the thin line between spirituality and materialism.
In Buddhist teaching, the law of Karma says -`for every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first, and this second event will be pleasant or unpleasant according as its cause was skillful or unskillful’.
‘Home Away From Home’ is an altruistic project launched by the Ex-Mussoorie Association that strives to give a holiday and a home to these unfortunate children during the winter vacations. The project’s initial effort last year saw ten children spent 3 weeks in Nepal - each with a family and a home to live in. This year, they plan to double that number.
While winter vacation for most children studying in Mussoorie, India, have been the happiest and the most anticipated annual break; for others who are compelled to stay back in the freezing climate, it is possibly the saddest and the loneliest. These underprivileged children are orphans, destitute, and new arrivals to India from Tibet.
For more information or ways to support this humane project visit: www.exmussoorie.com
*Jigme Ugen is the General Secretary of RTYC Minnesota.