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Laughter and love in Laya
Laya Gasa
"Chuu..." shouts Tshomo passing a traditional wooden cup filled with water. "Oh water," smiles Michael and takes the cup.

"Wotor?" repeats Tshomo making a funny face. The audience roars in laughter.

The comedy of a yak herder in Laya and an American tourist to Bhutan trying to communicate is one of the highlights of Druk ge goem (The Guest), the latest Bhutanese movie.

"The misinterpretation of the language with funny expressions kept me glued to the screen from the start," said Tenzin Choden, who emerged from the hall smiling.

The two and half hour romantic comedy introduces Michael (Michael Harris) as a tourist from New York who gets lost on the way from Gasa to Laya.

He meets Tshomo (Dorji Wangmo) and the romance picks up in the midst of yaks and the isolated hills. The movie also shows glimpses of the activities carried out by the local tourism companies.

Laya Gasa
Many people who watched the movie said that they were drawn to the idea of having a foreigner in a Bhutanese movie.

The typical Bhutanese attitude towards foreigners, age-old cultures and practices, kindness and ignorance of remote people are brought out distinctly through Micheal's role.

According to the lead actress, Dorji Wangmo, who is also the producer and the script writer, the romantic theme was made possible only with the introduction of a foreigner as the lead actor.

Depicting the unique life style of yak herders of Laya and the breathtaking landscape and greenery of Soe-phu adds colour to the movie.

The movie was shot in Gasa, Laya, Paro and Soe-phu over the period of five months.

The five songs in the movie, including a Layap song and a song in English, has appealed to people of various age groups.

The director and the cameraman, Kinley Dorji, said the movie was an effort to present something new to Bhutanese moviegoers.

"Besides entertaining, the movie is about responsibility and respect and to treat the guests with perfect hospitality," he said.

Besides using crane shots and sound effects, a professional cameraman from South India was also hired, according to the director. "The cooperation of the Layaps made the movie making very easy," said Kinley Dorji.

Contributed by Kesang Dema, KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2006

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