By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, November 13 – A new movie- Tsampa to Pizza, directed and produced by a Tibetan youth, Sonam Tsetan, has been catching the eyes and inpsiration of Tibetans and non-Tibetans here in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala.
The 45-minute movie reflecting the way of life of today’s Tibetan youths in exile’s and their dream of restoring the freedom of their lost country was first screened for press earlier on November 4. The movie has since been screened more than five times with special requests for screening in couple of cases.
Tsampa to Pizza is a movie that depicts the today’s Tibetan youths leaning towards western or non-Tibetan influences and, in doing so, at times many of them tend to overlook the far more serious cause that they need to stand for.
The title of the movie, Tsampa, meaning roasted barley flour, which is a stable Tibetan food and Pizza symbolising non-Tibetan influences, is very much befitting.
In the movie, Tenzin and Dhondup are two Tibetan college going friends sharing common room and, with their fair share of interests in girls, music and sports like any other youths of today. They have just finished their schooling in one of the Tibetans schools in India and are admitted to Indian university to pursue their further studies.
In the movie, the main role-actors are hand-picked Tibetan yougsters. Tenzin’s part is played by Sonam’s own brother who is currently pursuing his study in an Indian institute in Delhi and his friend Dhondup is played by Tenzin Lhundup, another yougster.
They are seemingly clueless about their true identity. Born to exiled Tibetan parents, they have learnt to accept their host country as their own, adapted to its way of life and, in fact, find themselves mingling with non-Tibetan classmates in Indian college campus.
However, being completely among non-Tibetan friends for the first time and as series of other incidents unfold themseleves before their eyes, Tenzin begins to realise that everything doesn’t really appear as he thinks. The feeling of being an outsider in a foreign country slowly starts creeping his mind.
Their sheer chanced-encounter with an India student supportive of Tibetan cause in the university campus and a special resource talk by an ex-Tibetan political prisoner on the suppression faced by Tibetan in Tibet under Chinese Communist rule and the torture being experienced by Tibetan political prisoners in Chinese-run prisons and detention centres, set up across Tibet, give them the final awakening of their lives.
All these send Tenzin into deep emotionally-engrossing thoughts. He begins to think more seriously of the sorry state of his country and the exiled Tibetans struggling for their lost freedom. The movie ends with Tenzin’s self-proclaiming message, “We are born refugees but we will not die as refugees” and appeals to his fellow Tibetans to “Never Give up”.
The movie is a reflection of a reckless real life journey of many a Tibetan youths and calls for the need to inculcate in them the greater responsibility that lies ahead of each of them. Sonam calls this movie a refelection of his own life experience and his associated fellow college friends.
Watching the movie, Lhasang Tsering, a strong advocate of independent Tibet, described the movie as a “deeply moving” and recommends the leaders of Tibetan community to see it.
Sonam himself says that Tibetan youngsters are the target audience of his movie but, does not reserve the age limitations. He intends to show his movie in as many Tibetan settlements as possible to give, especially the youths to have a chance to see it.
So, Tsampa to Pizza is definitely a “must see” movie for today’s Tibetan youngsters.
A mass communication graduate from Indian city of Pune and presently working in a reputed Indian news channel, NDTV, Sonam Tsetan already has two documentary movies to his credit and has two more in line for making.