By Radhika Bhirani
Chetan Angchok Nimoo, Ladakh’s first director, says that the movie viewers in this Jammu and Kashmir region prefer emotional dramas over actioners.
“That’s what works with the audience in Leh. No action, Ladakhi films are more about emotion. Action doesn’t work here,” Nimoo, who is in his 50s, told IANS here. He added that locals enjoy emotions and “rone waali” (melodramatic) films.
In fact, more the tears bigger the success.
“When we used to showcase our film in community hall, we used to stand behind and see how many people were crying. That’s how we used to measure the success of our film,” he said.
Nimoo started his filmmaking journey in 1988. It was just a stray thought that struck him and he decided to wield the megaphone.
Sharing the interesting anecdote about how he turned into a filmmaker, he said: “In Ladakh, nobody had thought of making a film. It accidentally struck my mind to make a film. We started writing the script in 1988, and around late 1989 and January 1990, we showed it as a live play, and later we picturised it.”
What was the inspiration behind moviemaking’
“I used to see a lot of Hindi films. I saw ‘Dreamgirl’ and Dharmendraji looked so good in it. Then I saw ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’ (1988), it was a film that worked very well. In fact, people, who saw my film, felt that post interval my movie was like ‘Qayamat…’,” said Nimoo.
He titled his debut movie as “Chespay-Khachat”, which means “Pyaar Ka Waada Hai”. It was made in “few thousand rupees”, and back then, the ticket was priced at Rs.20 only.
“It highlighted the importance of education, but the ending was tragic. The hero and heroine die in the end,” he said.
Sharing the film’s story, Nimoo said “Chespay-Khachat” was about a poor boy, who’s good at studies.
“But he couldn’t afford good education. Then he meets a girl who helps him, but the hero’s parents are against it. The hero and heroine eventually fall in love. It had romance, message and apt climax – it was a hit back then in the Ladakh region,” he said.
Nimoo had no proper place to showcase his film, so he started by screening at a community hall in his village.
“The ‘mukhiya’ (village head) did the premiere, and then we showcased it in my village. Since every village has a welfare society, we showcased it in other villages, and people support. I had shot it in VHS format, and then we made a cassette. There was no video lab. It went to different regions and it was talked about,” he said.
With minimum facilities, he has made maximum movies that include two feature films, various documentaries and short films.
“I like to make films on social evils, education, women and environment,” said the much-respected filmmaker here on the sidelines of the ongoing Ladakh International Film Festival (LIFF) here.
However, he says nowadays filmmakers “have become much better here and they make movies on a professional level. There is no filmmaking school here, but people make films for passion”.
A film fest like LIFF, which brings known names from the Hindi film industry and abroad to the picturesque valley, is “more than welcome” because by interacting with them, “we learn about shots, angles and storytelling”.