Kaavya Pradeep Kumar
Think Buddhist monk and among the first images to form might be of a person wrapped in crimson robes, meditating somewhere in the remote heights of the Himalayas.
Certainly not the sort of characters you would find hollering in front of a television, shaking their fists and completely removed of any ‘serenity’ that their stereotype conjures up to mind. But a director participating in the 18th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) is a monk, a football fanatic, an accomplished writer, and film-maker all rolled into one.
A meaningful friendship
Khyentse Norbu is a Bhutanese lama and he persuaded noted Indian film producer Suresh Jindal to keep aside his Buddhism learning for a while and to return to film production.
Mr. Jindal, of Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi fame, is in the capital to attend the film festival and assess the reception to Mr. Norbu’s third film Vara a Blessing. It opened this year’s Busan International Film Festival before being screened at the International Film Festival of India in Goa.
“Rinpoche (as Mr. Jindal refers to him) has already warned all his students and acquaintances in the film fraternity that he will be unavailable during the Brazil Football World Cup next year.
In fact, his very first film called The Cup involves a group of young Buddhist monks desperately trying to find a television to watch a football world cup,” said Mr. Jindal. Vara a Blessing is the first film of the director in which he has worked with professional actors.
“That is how he is. One day he will be directing a wonderful film, the next day retreating into a cave, and then writing a book, then travelling across the world and teaching Lord Buddha’s teachings,” said the veteran producer.
Shot in Sri Lanka, Mr. Jindal says the visuals of the film are stunning particularly because the camera work has been done by award-winning cameraman and cinematographer Bradford Young from New York.
“It was an international band of players that worked on the film, with the editor hailing from China – William Chung – music director from London – Nitin Sawney – and actors from India,” said Mr. Jindal. This film is based on a multi-layered short story written by Bengali novelist Sunil Gangopadhyay.
Mr. Jindal seems to have a knack for picking scripts that have been long ignored, which then rise to international fame. Aside from Gandhi, he also produced Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khilari and his very first film released in 1974 — Rajnigandha.
With his films winning three national awards, four Filmfare awards, and eight Oscars, Mr. Jindal says he was planning to devote his energies to Buddhist teaching, when ‘Rinpoche’ came along and this film was made after a 10-year hiatus.