By Tashi Wangchuk
After hearing many good things about this film, I finally got hold of Shenpenn Khymsar’s first foray into Bollywood- “Broken Wings” at the Tibetan community hall in Northern Virginia, USA recently. The story revolves around a Tibetan college-goer boy and his romantic affair with a beautiful daughter of an ever-powerful District Magistrate helmed by the Bollywood ace actor Vinay Pathak (Rabne Bana Di Jodi, Khosla Ka Ghosla, etc.) at the backdrop of the nineties when Gurkhas in Northeast were struggling for separate statehood, and that the whole region was under political turmoil.
It is a fantastic blend of politics and romance. While the two lovers keep us glued throughout, politics keeps us engaged at another level. Being a college goer in the nineties, the film also brought back many nostalgic memories of where we used to listen to songs on magnetic tape recorders, watch Sanju’s Sadak, and keep long hair as he did and many more in Dehradun. Another noteworthy aspect of the film is its terrific background music which the director composed and directed himself. I still remember the day I saw on the news that the film had an issue with one of the music rights, and Shenpenn announced that he would compose a new one and replace it in no time. He even did it at lightning speed, which was equally troubling for me. But now, all I can see is that it was good.
Although I am aware that the filmmaker is well versed in the technical aspect of moviemaking, such as cinematography, editing, music, sound, and others from his earlier works, I am equally amazed by his talent in storytelling, which many of the filmmakers myself included tend to miss as movie making is a complicated process. There are always innumerable distractions from the pre to production, through posts that could sway the story at any time- like the meditating Buddha being distracted by witches and ghosts from attaining the Buddhahood under the Mahabodhi tree. Kudos to Shenpenn for staying alert throughout and taking his film to the nirvana rightfully
During the Q&A, he also revealed that another A-lister actor, Nawazuddin Sidique (Sacred Games, Gangs of Wasseypur, etc.) was slated to appear in it as one of the critical characters- a police officer, and sadly he couldn’t be due to the COVID lockdown restrictions and some other issues. Three crew members also passed away due to COVID; some, as I said earlier, even served him court notice for the music right, while one retired police officer threatened to sue him on the pretext that a character in the film was a dig at him. Hence with all these and more, Shenpenn went through a lot, and most importantly, he braced all of them positively, and the result, as we already know, is this beautifully made film.
I truly felt proud to watch a marvellous Indian film by a fellow Tibetan who has been struggling to make his mark in the field for the last more than two decades now. The film is nothing short of a gem. In a year, Bollywood must be producing around a thousand or so films, and sadly only a handful are worthy of remembering, and this is one of them. Unsurprisingly, he is now gearing up for another major film, a Tibet-themed Hollywood action movie. Initially, I was taken aback and couldn’t believe my ears when he told me he was doing a Hollywood movie. All sorts of thoughts ran into my mind. How is this possible? Who is financing the project? I wished he was a little humbler and kept it honest, and so forth and so on. But now, after watching his latest flick, ‘Broken Wings,’ I can only say CONGRATULATIONS and GOOD LUCK.
(Views expressed are his own)
The writer is a Washington DC based independent filmmaker and TV producer/host whose earlier works include feature length films such as My Son Tenzin & Richard Gere is My Hero and India’s Doordarshan commissioned film: Democracy in Exile among others.