Kingdom of Bhutan is a beautiful country. The Himalayan vistas are breathtaking
and the karma is almost uniformly positive. In fact, you could almost say they
invented karma there. However, fate will be a little tricky when past-life
lovers meet the second time around in Karma Deki’s Kushuthara: Pattern of Love (trailer here), which is now
available via digital VOD.
do not just pop over to Bhutan. It takes a lot of logistical coordination.
However, Charlie the British sounding Los Angelino has managed to make the trek
for an assignment documenting the traditional weavers of Kurtoe-Menjey in the
East and their colorful textiles. He will be delighted he made the journey when
he meets Chokimo, a weaver renowned in the valley for her singing voice, who
just happens to be married to his rustic host, Bumpala.
immediate mutual attraction is awkwardly obvious to everyone, including Bumpala
and Charlie’s fixer, Penjor. They scrupulously maintain decorum, but when
Chokimo tells him the local legend of Meto Lhazey and Phuntsho Namgyel, two
lovers tragically separated by destiny, they both recognize its significant
parallels with their own circumstances.
yes, you could think of Kushuthara as
”Bridges of Himalayan County,” except for its achingly disciplined sense of
self-sacrifice and denial. This is a world where Hollywood values do not apply—and
if they gave into temptation, there would be karmic consequences. Instead, they
can take comfort from briefly reuniting and we can hope they have better luck
next time around.
viewers get the wrong idea, Deki handles the reincarnation themes quite subtly.
In no way does this film preach Buddhism (which makes it all the more
appealing). Kushuthara is more directly
concerned with the pain of being in love, but not being able to do a blessed
thing about it.
the Kingdom lacks post-production facilities, they are not without a hardy
filmmaking community. Most films are heavily influenced by Bollywood aesthetics,
but Deki somewhat (but not entirely) tones it down for Kushuthara, which she conceived as a Westerner-friendly remake of
her 2008 film of the same name. Frankly, it might just build a word-of-mouth
following, partly because of its spiritual implications, but mostly due to the
luminous work of Kezang Wangmo, Bhutan’s leading screen actress and a current
member of parliament, as Chokimo. It is a wonderfully delicate but chastely
contrast, the supposed Western ringer, Emrhys Cooper is quite loud and prone to
mugging (and not in an in-character kind of way) as Charlie the dude. However, Karma
Chedon and Kencho Wangdi create wonderfully poignant chemistry as Meto Lhazey
and Phuntsho Namgyel, seen during periodic flashbacks.
There is something refreshing about a love story
told with such austerity and purity of emotion. We can also possibly read into
it echoes of Bhutan’s continuing hopes to modernize, but not at the expense of
its traditional religious values. It has some rough edges as you might expect,
considering Bhutanese cinema is still experiencing plenty of growing pains, but
they cannot diminish the beauty of Kezang Wangmo’s performance or the exquisite
sadness of the past-life love affair. As a film, it is just lovely to look at,
in all respects. Highly recommended for romantics, Kushuthara: Pattern of Love is now available on digital VOD
platforms, including iTunes.
Labels: Bhutanese Cinema, Kezang Wangmo, VOD