Indo-Asian News Service
TORONTO: Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s film The Sweet Requiem, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Sunday, highlights the tragedy and fortitude of Tibetan refugees escaping to India through the high mountainous passes.
Set mostly in Delhi’s Tibetan settlement at Manju-Ka-Tilla, this film is the couple’s follow-up to their 2005 film Dreaming Lhasa.
Inspired by the shooting incident of 2006 on Nangpa La Pass — between Tibet and Nepal — where Chinese guards fired and killed 16-year Tibetan girl Kelsang Namtso escaping to India, the film tries bring the Tibetan refugee crisis into the world’s consciousness.
The protagonist of this film is 26-year-old Dolkar (played by Tenzin Dolker) whose family has had suffered a similar fate as the girl killed while trying to flee Tibet in 2006.
Dolkar was eight when he father decided to the heart-breaking decision to leave her mother back in Tibet and escape with her to India with a small group of escapees. But on the treacherous snow-clad escape route through mountain passes, their guide Gompo betrays her father.
The bitter memories of their escape and treachery by Gompo keep haunting Dolkar as grows into a young woman till she comes face to face with the man who had caused her father’s death.
Driven by revenge as Dolkar chases the aging Gompo through the back alleys of Majnu-Ka-Tilla, a parallel political intrigue becomes part of the larger plot as she finally.
Speaking after the premiere of the film, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam said the film aims to draw attention to the criss confronting Tibetan refugees.
“The killing of the 16-year-old by Chinese guards was the trigger for us to make this film to highlight the crisis Tibetans face,’’ said Tenzing Sonam who lives in Darjeeling.
“My family is one of the first Tibetan refugees who came to India with the Dalai Lama. I was born in India. The tragedy continues.’’
Apart from Manju-Ka-Tilla, the couple shot parts — escape from Tibet — in Ladakh.