Lunana- A Journey to Attain Peace!

by Glenn Maxwell

Lunana- A Journey to Attain Peace

Lunana-a yak in the classroom, is a movie filmed in the islands of Bhutan illustrating the unmatched beauty and magnificence of Bhutan. The visual charm that the movie holds is praiseworthy.Bhutan, a little chunk of heaven with mountains and dense green forests all around is home to many unnoticed gems that amaze tourists. Lunana is one of the treasures to come across in this lovely country.The valley of Lunana is one of the most remote areas of the Gas a district in the Northwestern part of Bhutan.

The plot

It is a Bhutanese drama film about a guy named Ugyen, who is apparently a school teacher and is in his last year of training. Ugyen, however, wants to leave his training and is keen on pursuing his dream in the field of music from a different country. Even after constant unwillingness to continue with his training, he is being sent to the remote and isolated town of Lunana by his grandmother. There, he is asked to serve as a teacher of the extremely remote and distant school. After the steady desire of his grandmother, Ugyen finally makes up his mind and starts his journey towards moving to Lunana. After the 8-day long trek, he finally reaches Lunana. Ugyen, when comes across the poor conditions of the village, chooses to give up and return to his hometown. However, the mules needed time to rest, therefore, he is made to stay there for a few more days.

Nevertheless, as time goes by, Ugyen attempts to accommodate himself in the unfamiliar environment. The next morning, he goes to the school and sees students eagerly waiting for him. He was amazingly surprised to learn how the students believe that a teacher has the power to touch the future with their promising abilities. With this, in some course of time, he manages to develop an unexpectedly decent and delicate bond with the kids and begins to discover happiness in its purest form.

He makes his way of teaching interesting by playing guitar and engaging with his students in a joyful manner.

Well, nevertheless, Ugyen decides to depart as soon as the winter arrives. The fresh news disheartens the kids.

Later, he finds Saldon singing a traditional song while sitting at the top of a hillside. Saldon is the daughter of the village leader and she is found singing ‘Yak Lebi Lhadar’ which was a song written by a local Yak herder who mourned over killing his beloved Yak for the good of Lunana.

For most of the year, yak dung is the major and key source of fuel in these altitudes. Therefore, Saldon then gifts Ugyen with a yak called, Norbu, so it is easy for him to start the fires by using the dungs.Now, Ugyen is on his way to leave the village after a whole-hearted farewell from the villagers. The village leader, Ashasings Yak Lebi Lhadar as Ugyen walks off. He was gifted with some letters from the children and later reads them. He finds the kids expressing their gratitude for him and acknowledging him as the best-ever teacher in the letter.

Ugyen ultimately travels to Sydney. There, he performs at a restaurant but confronts a lot of disinterest from the audience. He then takes a pause and starts to sing‘Yak Lebi Lhadar’ to draw in the attention of the audience.

Many of those who’ve acted in the film have never even caught a glimpse of a camera before.

The director’s notion

The director has indeed done a terrific job in highlighting these divisions in the overall development of the villagers residing there. Amazingly filmed in beautiful locations around the most isolated school on the planet and wonderfully performed by a cast of almost completely first-time performers, this popular and precious movie of all times celebrates the brilliant debut of writer-director Pawo Choyning Dorji. Sherab Dorji, the protagonist, and the entire crew of the film have done a marvelous job in a promising way. Viewers will come across the actual villagers of Lunana acting in the movie, that too in a fabulous manner possible. The decision to shoot the movie using solar-powered batteries and give an opportunity to the villagers to act their hearts out gives the movie a rejuvenating tone of uniqueness.

“I’ve been on an improbable journey ever since I decided to shoot the movie in the lush greens of a Himalayan village which happens to be three miles above the sea level.”, says the filmmaker, Pawo Choyning Dorji in an interview.

After putting in a good lot of thought on how to go about the film, after three years, in the year 2018, he said, it was important for him to visit Lunana because there was no way for him to make this movie elsewhere.

Awards and recognitions

Lunana has won the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film and the Best of the Fest at the 2020 palm springs International films Festival. It is the very first movie that stands as an Academy Award nominee.

Not only that, Lunana even marks the first Oscar nomination for the tiny Buddhist country of Bhutan.

The film toured the festival circuit, one after the other, after its premiere at the London Film Festival in 2019. While winning a good lot of awards and gradually creating a profile for itself, Lunana stands as one of the most loved films of the country and earned a reputation for itself overseas as well.

In closing

The simplicity and authenticity of the film have surely won the hearts of the masses. As a matter of attraction, the audience was not made to experience any mainstream melodrama. Instead, the movie exhibits some positive aspects of a genuine sentiment altogether. Talking about music, it is absolutely the heart and soul of the movie with its outstanding and unique elements.

To sum it up, Lunana- A yak in the classroom deal with the typical day-to-day basics of life, that is, love, warmth, the art of giving, learning and spirituality.  The movie portrays the country at its finest.

The Oscar-recognized film has managed to spread a wonderful message and earned a tremendously fabulous name for itself.

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