Dorji Gyeltshen is one of the finest comedian-actors of Bhutan film industry. He did not just stumble into the film industry; he lunched his journey as a cook in the film “Rang gi Sem”, taking on a small role. He has struggled his way to reach where he is now, making him a testament to the rewards of the hard work and dedication. His talent has earned him numerous roles in both movies and series. He secured his first significant role in the TV series “Azha Gup” in 2012, which aired on BBS. Furthermore, he even graced the international stage with his acting featured in the movie “The Red Phallus”, directed by Tashi Gyeltshen.
Q. What is brewing these days?
A. Currently, I’m in the midst of shooting a film titled “Pandemic Window,” directed by the highly skilled filmmaker, Pelden.
Q. When did you commence your journey in the film industry, and what led you to choose a path as an actor?
A. Thank you for your inquiry. I began my acting career in 1997 with the movie “Rang gi Sem,” directed by Dorji Om. Interestingly, I didn’t start as an actor; I initially worked as a kitchen helper.
Q. During the filming of “Rang gi Sem,” did you have any additional duties or responsibilities apart from your role as a kitchen helper?
A. After working as a kitchen helper for 16 days during the filming of “Rang gi Sem,” I had a turning point in my journey thanks to Director Rigzang. He recognized my potential and entrusted me with technical responsibilities. Rigzang believed that I should seize opportunities beyond kitchen duties and encouraged me to explore acting. I’m truly indebted to Chencho, who introduced me to the film industry. Physical attributes and talent often play crucial roles in the film industry, making it challenging to break in without them. However, Director Rigzang saw potential in me and initially cast me in the technical division. Furthermore, he gave me a chance as a background dancer, possibly because he had observed my dancing skills during my time as a kitchen helper. My involvement in school dramas, skits, and dance performances from a young age played a pivotal role in preparing me for this incredible journey.
Q. What were your emotions like when you took on your initial acting role in the film “Rang gi Sem”?
A. When Director Rigzang acknowledged my acting abilities and offered me a small role in the film, I was overwhelmed with joy. I couldn’t contain my happiness at that moment. I was so elated and anxious that I have no recollection of how I portrayed my character in the film.
Q. What obstacles did you encounter while navigating your way through the film industry?
A. Since my entry into the film industry in 1997 with “Rang gi Sem,” I experienced a year-long period without any work, which was quite disheartening.
Q. Out of all the films you’ve been a part of, do you have a particular favorite?
A. I’ve had the privilege of being a part of numerous films, and each one holds a special place in my heart. However, if I were to pick a standout favorite, I would undoubtedly choose “Azha Gup,” directed by Karma Yonten. It’s special because Karma envisioned me as Azha Gup while crafting the story. Furthermore, he entrusted me with the task of writing the dialogues for the film, which significantly aided me in immersing myself in the character.
Q. Of all the movies you’ve been involved in, can you tell me which film character presented the most challenging portrayal for you?
A. In Bhutanese films, I didn’t encounter many significant issues. There were some minor challenges, mostly related to weather and technical issues. However, the real difficulties arose when I took on a role in an international film where I had to portray a character as a father. The primary challenge I faced during that project was related to my voice. While physical appearance can be altered with makeup, adjusting my voice to sound like that of a 50-60-year-old father proved to be a bit challenging. Nevertheless, working on international films typically comes with ample practice time and access to necessary resources, which ultimately helped me overcome these difficulties without feeling troubled or bored.
Q. As an actor, what kind of encouragement and assistance do you receive from your family and close ones?
A. Most of my time is spent in my hometown. When a film project requires me to be in Thimphu, I make the trip. Once the project is completed and there’s no other work, I return to my hometown where my wife resides. She plays an immensely supportive role in my life, taking on about 90% of my responsibilities. What might take me 10 days to accomplish, she manages in just one day. Her constant encouragement for me to pursue my passion for acting rather than seeking work in the village means a great deal to me. Despite not having formal education, her wisdom and thoughtfulness are akin to someone highly educated. She wholeheartedly supports me, respecting our relationship and contributing in every way possible. I’ll forever cherish the love and support she’s given me throughout my life.
Q. As an actor, what are your aspirations and plans for the future?
A. In the coming years, I envision having the chance to participate in additional film projects. As a devoted family man with four children, my hope is to continue my journey as an actor within the film industry.
Despite others being more knowledgeable than me, I believe that I can share valuable insights from my own experience. To all the young individuals and aspiring actors out there, my advice is this: never let disappointment deter you from your dreams. Stay unwaveringly focused on your goals, continuously refine your skills, and remain open to learning from those who excel in the field. Remember, there are many accomplished actors and directors who are willing to support you when you seek their guidance. If you have genuine faith in your passion for acting, hold steadfast to it, and give it your utmost dedication and effort.