Hari, an effervescent taxi driver in Dharamshala, says, “I’m tense about the wedding now,” handing over his wedding card to a relative as the camera adjusts itself to show apprehension writ large on his face. During the course of the next 175 minutes, we share the 30-year-old’s trepidation and excitement as he ties the knot with Suman, whom he has met for just two minutes but now is madly in love with, thanks to a cell phone. When Hari Got Married, a documentary film by Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin, which premiered at the Films From the South Festival in Oslo last September, is about how Hari embraces a pivotal modern-age tool -- the cell phone -- to know his future life partner.
Sarin and Sonam knew Hari since he was 14 as he stayed in a village behind the duo’s home. But they decided to make the film after they realised his story was waiting to be told. “When Hari Got Married shows how a man raised in a traditional family embraces modernity. It explores how even today, the traditional system of arranged marriage is followed where grooms and brides don’t see each other before their wedding day. We knew that Hari would make a good character for a film,” says Sarin Filming was easy for Sarin and Sonam.
While the former interacted with Hari and his family members, the latter shot the proceedings. But editing the documentary and seeking funds was tough. Sarin says, “We had over 50 hours of footage. It took us nine months to edit the content.” Despite filming acclaimed projects with Tibet as the subject such as The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche (1991), The Trials of TeloRinpoche (1993), The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet (1998) and a feature, Dreaming Lhasa, it was tough for the Dharamsala-based filmmaker duo to get funding.
Finally, they managed to seek the support of Independent Television Service (ITVS) International and screen the movie at India International Film Festival in Goa and Dharamsala Film Festival last year. The film will now be screened as part of PVR Director’s Rare series from August 30 at PVR cinemas in Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore.
Sarin and Sonam have already started work on their next feature film and are preparing for the second edition of the Dharamsala International Film Festival, which they kick started last year. “Right now, we are in the process of finalising the 26 movies that will be shown at the festival from October 24-27,” Sarin signs off.