Sky Flower, new film about Nepali Guru Ratnashree

eKantipur
May 11, 2014

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KATHMANDU, MAY 11 – The central character in Sky Flower, The Vidyadhara Acharya Mahayogi Sridhar Rana Rinpoche, never makes an appearance in the documentary. The guru is constructed for us in the words of the people whose lives he’s touched: the colleagues he worked with before he took up the Buddhist path, a Jesuit priest who taught him at St. Xavier’s, Godavari, paubha painters he’s inspired, friends, family, disciples.

And it’s one particularly devoted disciple of his, Raj Karki, who conceptualised and directed the work. Karki, a yoga teacher, came across the rinpoche when he’d been searching for psychological healing. Guru Ratnashree, as he’s called by his students, counselled him and taught him the art of meditation at the Byoma Kusuma Buddhadharma Sangha’s headquarters in Bishalnagar, Kathmandu . The documentary is Karki’s offering to Guru Ratnashree, his guru dakshina.

Making films is not something new for Karki, who’s in his mid-forties. When he was 18 years old and studying his ISc in Palpa, he’d rustled up some funds from his friends and made a feature film that was screened in the video halls in Palpa and Butwal. When he was 20 years old, he worked as the lead actor in a Nepali feature film, Hoori, which featured artistes such as Brazesh Khanal, Bina Budathoki, Sushila Rayamajhi and Ravi Shah. And later, he worked as the director for Nepal Television’s yoga programmes.

It’s perhaps because of that experience he’s had with the medium that Karki was able to turn the 45-minute-long Sky Flower into such a slick documentary. It’s difficult to make a documentary about a person who is living in seclusion—Guru Ratnashree has been in retreat in his house for 18 years now. So Karki, along with cinematographer Ali Rasheed, and interviewer and coordinator Puja Shrestha, had to work with snippets of details about the guru provided by others and string them together to form the narrative. The story of Guru Ratnashree’s life is built mostly from stills of photographs interspersed with shots of the sangha and interviews with the guru’s disciples. The crew of three had to work with a very limited budget, and yet the documentary, shot in natural light throughout, works exceedingly well because the frames blend into each other so seamlessly: it’s a fitting garland for a guru.

Sky Flower was screened at the St. Xavier’s School auditorium on Saturday.

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For more on Guru Ratnashree, see http://www.byomakusuma.org/Ratnashri/RatnashriBio.aspx

 

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