Bollywood in Bhutan, Land of Mystery & Magic

Bollywood in BhutanBhutan, also known as The Land of the Thunder Dragon, is among the most peaceful countries in the world, its a Himalayan kingdom where traditional Buddhist culture shakes hands with global developments. And unless you’re a Bhutanese, you’re unlikely to know this fact – The people in Bhutan are obsessed with Bollywood and they just love Salman Khan.

Even their local movie industry looks to Bollywood for inspiration and tries to ape Bollywood in most of their films. Here we take a look at the Bollywood films that were filmed in Bhutan, and how does the Bhutan market look like for Bollywood entertainment consumption.

Bollywood Movies Filmed in Bhutan

In recent times, the movie ’15, Park Avenue’ was shot in Bhutan. Directed by Aparna Sen and featuring Shabana Azmi, Rahul Bose, Konkona Sen Sharma, the movie was shot in places like Paro (Gangtey Palace), Paro Valley, and on the streets in Thimpu.

By the way, Kelly Dorji (Lara Dutta’s ex) is a Bhutanese by origin. Kelly has worked in several Bollywood films and is currently quite active in South Indian films. He was born in Kolkata and studied at St Paul’s, Darjeeling, before moving to Mumbai.

Does he miss Bhutan? “I do. My parents are there. I enjoy celebrity status in Bhutan. I might do a Bhutanese film some time,” says Kelly Dorji.

Bhutanese Love Bollywood

Bhutan also has a small, local film industry that makes around 20 to 30 movies every year in their national language Dzongkha. But Bollywood remains the favorite. Bhutanese rent out and download Hindi movies and also watch them on television.

When film director Imtiaz Ali attended Thimphu’s Mountain Echoes literary festival, several Bhutanese filmmakers and aspiring ones gathered to hear him speak about film-making.

However in the age of global competition, Bollywood does face competition from another film industry – that of South Korea, which has made significant inroads in Bhutan in recent years. So Bollywood better watch out!

Bollywood Music Rocks

It may seem as if there’s no night life in the Land of the Thunder Dragon (yes, Bhutan is also known by that name) where shops shut at 8 p.m. and most eating joints close by 10 p.m. on a normal day.

But you will be pleasantly surprised to see that they have a happening night life. No doubt, Bhutanese are quite protective about preserving their culture, but nightlife in its capital city ‘Thimphu’ is exciting.

On weekends, youth dressed in hip clothes and funky hair styles can be seen letting their hair down at pubs, and guess what, they often dance to Bollywood numbers, besides English numbers.

So don’t be surprised if you see the DJ playing the latest Bollywood hit numbers. And what’s more, Bhutanese youngsters even know the dance steps of the hit Bollywood songs.

Bhutan Tourism

Bhutan is one of those very few countries in Asia that has successfully managed to maintain a balance between its tradition and modernity. Bhutan is a wonderful example of how two varied cultures can co-exist. Bhutan’s youngsters have no qualms about wearing their traditional attire, and at the same time are fashion conscious.

The Bhutanese Government and its national airline Drukair have tied up with several online travel companies to provide tour packages with chartered flights from New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata to Bhutan. The Government has also revised its FDI policy, making it more friendly for foreign investors, to encourage tourism.