Dev Anand shot Jewel Thief in 1967, Yaariyan (that blue hain pani pani wala film) was made in 2014, Pahuna in 2018 and who can forget Danny Denzongpa’s 1988 classic Saino or the acclaimed Dhokbu-The Keeper (2017). All these movies have become significant for different reasons but the one common thread that binds them together is- Sikkim.

Any moviegoers who have seen any film shot in Gangtok’s M.G Marg or the beautiful snow clad mountains of Tsomgo and Lachen or the alpine meadows of Yumthang know that Sikkim is the real star of the show.

At the 67th National Film Awards, Sikkim was awarded the ‘Most Film Friendly State’ title. It is a huge recognition and an encouraging sign for budding filmmakers and artists in the State. We sat down with Pooja Sharma, Chairman of Sikkim Film Board to talk about the State’s film policy and how she plans to make Sikkim not only a filming location but an industry with its own opportunities.

Q) You have been instrumental in ensuring proper representation of the State in every movie that is shot here. What do you aim to showcase in any movie that is made in the State?

P.S: I have taken my job very seriously and I am trying my best to provide support to everyone in a tangible way. I make sure that I am present in the shooting or the premiere of any movie shot here. I aim to make Sikkim a film shooting hub and I hope my involvement can publicise the State as a sustainable tourism destination. I want every film that is shot here to show Sikkim’s natural and exquisite beauty, its traditional heritage, authentic cuisine, ethnic culture and people, attire and lifestyle. Basically, it’s like promoting regional cinema in global aspect.

Q) What do you think appeals to filmmakers about Sikkim?

P.S: It depends because everyone has their own perspective. However, I believe filmmakers in Sikkim love to tell untold, real and crisp stories. Sikkim and its people offer authenticity and I think that is what appeals to filmmakers.

Q) Many filmmakers who have previously shot in the State have made remarks about things like lack of infrastructure and difficulty in securing permits for locations. How do you plan to resolve this issue?

P.S: I 100% agree and I want to say that we are doing our best. While some of our departments are willing to work together to come up with a solution, we still struggle to communicate and deliver results which I agree is unfortunate. I am being blunt here but this is a serious matter. Delay in single window clearances, lack of infrastructures for crew members and permits are some of the issues that we are struggling with.

Currently we are working on our very own Film City concept. It will be revolutionary when that happens and it will create job opportunities for locals and our talents won’t have to go outside to work in film productions. All I can say is we are working

rigorously and I hope it pays off.

Q) Is there a possibility in the near future where we can get a full feature film consisting of an all Sikkimese cast and crew because right now all we are doing is laying down carpets for filmmakers from outside to come and shoot in the State. Yes, shooting in the State creates jobs and opportunities for locals but what do you think is needed to be independent from that and create our own jobs and opportunities in the field of filmmaking.

P.S: Filmmaking is an art and art is seamless integration of various events, it is endless! However, I have and shall always give preference to local filmmakers and stakeholders. I want more films to be made and produced locally. I want more Ugyen Chopels, Prashant Rasailys and Samten Bhutias.

Sikkim Film Promotion Board is very much on board with the idea of making locally made films. There are so many filmmakers who are currently working on their projects and we are supportive of their vision and their dedication. Creating an industry of opportunities takes time and we need people who are driven by their passion to tell stories through filmmaking and arts. This is just the beginning.

Q) Any upcoming films or projects that you are excited about??

P.S: I am excited about Jaar, Misthi, Katla, Dhokbu-2. Shenphenn da (Broken Wings) is also working on a script and plans to shoot in Sikkim somewhere this year itself. We also have a Bollywood movie lined up for shooting. I try bringing in more and more films to be made here. However, I urge that our Sikkimese filmmakers make more films. For now I am happy with the progress that we have made so far but I want more from us.

Dawa Lepcha is making the sequel to Dhokbu with an all Sikkimese cast on board, so that is pretty commendable.
Among others, Prashant Rasaily is working on a new movie, Sushma Productions is also currently filming its project in the State,
Chunnilal Ghimire and C.P Giri are also in talks to make a comeback with a new venture.
Triveni Rai, Angel Tshering, Bhuwan Chettri , Abishek Chettri,  Deepankar Shakya, Minjo lama Pakhring and Ramesh are some filmmakers I am always looking forward to work with.
Film line-producers like Raj Sitaula, Pema Rinzing Lepcha, Jyoti, Pragya, Tashi Norbu Lachungpa, Ajay Anthony Limboo and Pema Rinzing Lepcha are always working towards making Sikkim a film friendly State.

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