By Arundhuti Banerjee
Thimphu, Aug 25 (IANS) Rise in audience participation at the four-day Mountain Echoes 2019, the festival of arts, literature and culture, which concluded at the Royal University of Bhutan, here on Sunday, was a positive change, said Kelly Dorji, one of the festival directors.
“Over the last five years, the most noticeable change that has happened is the audience participation. People from every corner of Bhutan are coming to be a part of the festival,” he said and added, earlier people mainly from Thimphu took part but now those from outside Thimphu were also participating actively.
“They are listening to speakers, asking questions and expressing curiosity. I think that is an important and positive chan”e,” Kelly told IANS.
According to Kelly, Bhutanese people are introvert by nature and that they are gathering the confidence to talk to some of the achievers is a welcome change.”
“Culturally, we respect privacy and that’s why even though youngsters have curious mind, they are often hesitant to walk up to me and talk to me. But we are all open to converse. In a platform like Mountain Echoes, we are trying to create that envir”nment,” Kelly said.
The Royal patron Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck addressed the guests and students at the festival. The guests were welcomed by the Royal Academy of Performing Arts students with their traditional performance.
The festival was spread out in Taj Tashi, Royal University of Bhutan, Clock Tower, City Cinema, Mojo Park Thimphu and also Bhutan Youth Development Fund.
On celebrities’ participation,”Kelly said, “Many friends from Mumbai have come to support the festival.” In the decade-long journey, many personalities, like Sharmila Tagore, Gulzar, Waheeda Rahman, Kalki Koechlin and Sashi Tharoor, have graced the festival.
Recounting an incident from 2016, Kelly said Tabu (Bollywood actress) was here. “In Mumbai, she, of course, has to walk around with bodyguards and she did the same here. But seeing how peaceful our city is, she told her bodyguard to not stand behind her all the time. People came and said how they adore her in films, but never troubled or disrespected her privacy. That’s our culture. We “espect privacy,” said Kelly, who has worked in Hindi and South Indian film industries.
With the idea to celebrate young mind and create a platform to exchange thoughts and make conversation, this year the festival had some sessions with people from the field of literature, entertainment, storytelling, photography and education, like Ananth Padmanabham, Richa Chadha, Abhishek Chaubey, Mentalist Karan Singh, international filmmakers such as Zuki Juno Tobgye and Xyza Cruz Bacani.
On future”plans, Kelly said, “We are planning to create an arena for the next edition of the festival, where we will create human libraries. We will create an environment for speakers to move around so that youngsters can come and directly talk to them. It will help them build confidence. I think once they start interacting with people from outside, they will stop feeling overwhelmed and start st”iking conversation.”
While the actor is planning to make the festival bigger and better”next year, he said, “I want Lisa Ray to join us because she is not only an old friend but also a wonderful human being. She is so inspirational as a personality and I am sure people here in Bhutan would love to see her. Also, my dream is to bring the south superstar Nagarjuna at”the Mountain Echoes.”
A phenomenal performance by the alternative rock band of Bhutan, Misty Terrence, marked the closing ceremony.
(Arundhuti Banerjee is in Bhutan on an invitation by the Mountain Echoes Festival. She can be contacted at [email protected])