Born in Bhutan in a small village called Chinchapang in Trongsa and brought up in Bumthang, Karma Tshering is one of Bhutan’s first artists trained in the field of filmmaking. This year, Mr. Karma has won “Asia’s Outstanding Achiever Award 2022” through a vigorous selection procedure by the selection committee of Asia Awards. “It is a great honor to receive the award and I would like to thank the selection committee of Asia Awards for bestowing me with this special award which I will cherish in my life” said Mr. Karma Tshering.
Mr. Karma Tshering is a soft-spoken person and humble by nature. Unlike his friends, he always wanted to try new things and venture into unexplored areas. Until the late nineties, Bhutan did not have television. However, few cinema halls existed in Bhutan since the fifties and sixties in Samdrupjongkhar, Thimphu, Phuntsholing, Gelephu and Samtse but these cinema halls were built to screen mostly Hindi (Bollywood) films. Because of the high influence of Hindi cinema, most Bhutanese in the earlier times could speak Hindi. Mr. Karma Tshering loved watching movies at a very young age and the very first Bollywood film he remembers watching was Qurbani, starring Vinod Khanna, Feroz Khan and Zeenat Aman. He still remembers his favorite song in the movie ‘Ab jaise koi meri, zindagi me aye, to Bath Banja-yey’ and he has remained a life-long fan of Zeenat Aman.
Mr. Karma Tshering then saw the potential in the film business in Bhutan. Despite the resistance from his family members and close friends, he chose to go to India to study film. Everyone thought it was foolish to even imagine film as a business in Bhutan. Mr. Karma Tshering completed a diploma course in “Production & Direction of Film & Television” from the Asian Academy of Film & Television (AFFT), India in 1996. In fact he was the first Bhutanese student to study film at AAFT. After successfully completing his film course in India, he went back to Bhutan and directed Bhutan’s first commercial film “Jigdrel”, produced by Norling Drayang in 1997. The film was a great success and still maintains the box office record as the highest grossing film in Bhutan. Since then, there was no looking back for Mr. Karma. In 2001, during the first National Film Awards in Bhutan, Mr. Karma Tshering won the “Best Film Director Award” for the film “Chepai Bu (my beloved son)” produced by Pekhang Audiovisuals. He went on to become the recipient of the very first “Best Film Director Award” in the history of Bhutanese cinema. In 2002, he received another “Best Film Director Award” for the film “6 Boys” based on a true story.
To enhance his knowledge in film and media, Mr. Karma Tshering received a Japanese scholarship (JICA) to study “Audio Visual Technology” in Okinawa, Japan in 2003. Upon his return from Japan, Mr. Karma Tshering went on to direct “Rangdol & Yangdon”, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. The film was produced by Norling Drayang. Mr. Karma Tshering also has a Post Graduate Diploma in Cinema from the Asian School of Media Studies, India.
Mr. Karma then progressed his career by briefly working in a Bollywood film “Badhai Ho Badhai '' starring Bollywood super star Anil Kapoor, Shilpa Shetty and Kirty Reddy in 2003 to gain experience. His time working on the sets of the world’s second biggest film industry was an additional feather to his cap. Some of the films directed by Mr. Karma are Jigdrel, Rangdol & Yangdon, Chepai Bu, Lhada-Gau, Muensel, 6 boys, Karma, the destiny and Choegyal Norzang & Yeethro Lhamo (yet to release) and has also produced numerous documentary films for Bhutan and international clients.
Besides filmmaking, Mr. Karma Tshering had also worked
for international projects. One of the projects he was passionate for was on
the preservation of sacred dance of Bhutan. An American non-profit organization
based in Chicago, USA called Core of Culture approached Mr. Karma especially
for this project. The five year long project (2004-2008) was funded by Honolulu
Academy of Arts (USA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Home & Cultural
Government of Bhutan. Mr. Karma Tshering was the Director of Production of the project. The project has helped document the sacred dances of Bhutan; especially the sacred dances performed by the villagers, some of which were on the verge of extinction. In 2008, the project organized a Religious Sacred Dance Festival in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA graced by Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck. As part of the event, a Bhutanese Film Festival was also organized in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA the same year.
In 2005, UNESCO proclaimed one of Bhutan’s most sacred dances called “Drametse Ngacham” as a “Masterpiece of the World Intangible Heritage”. A year after the proclamation, Mr. Karma helped the project in organizing a three day “Drametse Ngacham Festival “ at Yungdrung Choeling in Trongsa, palace of the first King of Bhutan. Drametse Ngacham dancers from all over Bhutan were invited for the three days festival to undertake an in-depth study on the Drametse Ngacham dance.
Mr. Karma, in 2008, founded the Miss Bhutan Pageant, Bhutan’s first beauty pageant contest to provide a platform for young Bhutanese women to display their skills, talents, and to advance their careers. Through the pageant, many young Bhutanese women were given various opportunities in different fields of work and mostly in the film business. The following year, Mr. Karma also founded Bhutan’s first women’s magazine “Yeewong”. Yeewong was the first print magazine in Bhutan that focused on women.
Coinciding with the 60th Birth Anniversary of The Fourth King of Bhutan, Mr. Karma published a coffee table book titled 11-11-11 on 11th November 2011 dedicated to His Majesty The Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The book was published and launched in 45 days (inception to launch) setting a publication record in Bhutan.
In 2014, Mr. Karma founded “Bhutan Eco-Green Initiative Network (BEGIN)” to encourage tree plantation in Bhutan. On 2nd June 2015, coinciding with the coronation day of the Fourth King of Bhutan, Mr. Karma successfully set Bhutan’s first Guinness World Record by planting 49,672 trees in one hour by 100 men. Mr. Karma has received a certificate of appreciation from The Guinness World Records for successfully setting the world record. Following the record setting event, many government organizations, NGOs, institutes, schools and private groups started planting trees throughout the country.
In 2015, under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, Mr. Karma had initiated a year long event titled “People’s Initiative in Celebrating the Sixtieth Anniversary” (PICSA) to commemorate the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Some of the national events organized by Mr. Karma are:
1) Two days “National Textile Exhibition” in Lhuentse, Bhutan showcased
traditional weavers all over the country. His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel
Ugyen Wangchuck and senior government officials graced the public event.
2) The first “Peling Tshechu” (sacred dance festival) was organized at Wangdichoeling palace ground, Bumthang for three days. Dancers from all Pema Lingpa traditions in the country performed at the event. Her Majesty Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck and HRH Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck graced the event along with the former Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay, former Opposition leader Dr. Pema Gyamtsho, former Finance Minister Namgay Dorji, senior government officials and general public. As part of the event, a Grand Cleaning Campaign in the entire dzongkhag (province) in Bumthang was initiated collecting close to 30 truckloads of waste making it the most waste collected in a day.
3) The first “National Music Festival” at Taktse College in Trongsa, Bhutan. All well known traditional and contemporary singers of Bhutan performed at the event. The event was graced by the former Finance Minister Lyonpo Namgay Dorji.
4) A second “Peling Tshechu” (sacred dance festival), was organised at Kuensel Phodrang, Thimphu. His Majesty The King, His Majesty The Fourth King, Her Majesty The Queen and Their Majesties The Queen Mothers graced the event dedicated to the Royal Birth of the Crown Prince of Bhutan. Their Royal Highness’ The Princes and Princesses, Prime Minister, Opposition leader, ministers, senior government officials and general public, also attended the event.
5) The yearlong celebration ended with the “Inter-Departmental Theatre Competition” at Sherubtse College, Kanglung that was graced by the former education minister Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk.
Mr. Karma is one of the founding members of the Film Association of Bhutan (FAB) formerly called the Motion Picture Association of Bhutan (MPAB). He served as the Vice-President at the initial stages and was later elected as the President of the Film Association of Bhutan from 2017 to 2020. While serving as the president of the FAB, Mr. Karma and his colleagues from the government and FAB visited film studios and film centers in South Korea to get a better understanding of the cinema world. In 2017, on the invitation of Switzerland-Bhutan Friendship Association, Mr. Karma attended and screened his film “Karma, the destiny” at the Bhutanese film festival in Zurich, Switzerland called “Bhutan Film Days”.
During his time as the President of FAB, he has also jointly coordinated the first “Bhutanese Film Festival” in Gangtok, Sikkim, India in 2018 funded by DoIM, Ministry of Information & Communications. The film festival was initiated to promote Bhutanese films and music in the region and to help build people to people friendship between Sikkim and Bhutan through the medium of film and music. Mr. Karma then proceeded to become the first Chairperson of the National Film Commission of Bhutan (NFCB) from 2018 to 2021. He has also served as the jury and jury coordinator several times during the National Film Awards in Bhutan.
In recognition of Mr. Karma Tshering’s continued contribution to cinema in Bhutan, he was awarded the “Hindi Cinema Samman Samaroh Award” in 2019 at the 12th Global Film Festival in India. The following year, Mr. Karma was also awarded with an “International Award for Excellence in Cinema” at the 13th Global Film Festival in India in 2020.
Last year, Mr. Karma Tshering has directed a Bhutanese feature film titled “Choegyal Norzang & Yeethro Lhamo”, an epic love story starring national award winning actors, Tandin Bidha, Nidup Dorji and Gyem Dorji. The film is due to be released this year.
Currently, Mr. Karma Tshering has engaged his time in organizing Miss Bhutan pageant 2022 that will take place in May 2022. He is also working to produce the largest book in the world. The book titled “The Great Fourth” will be Bhutan’s second attempt to set a new Guinness World Record as the world’s largest book. The book will cover stories and articles on the Fourth King’s extraordinary achievements during His Majesty’s 34 years of golden reign.
Mr. Karma Tshering is a passionate filmmaker, a publisher, an event organizer and a social worker who is a patriot at heart. He remains a humble servant to his King and country.
BACK TO TOP