Sikkim, the Paradise of Filmmakers

By Pickle  July 5, 2021
Pooja Sharma, Chairperson, Sikkim Film Promotion Board

The state government of Sikkim is tirelessly working on creating a conducive ecosystem in making Sikkim a favoured destination for filmmakers, says Pooja Sharma, Chairperson, Sikkim Film Promotion Board

Sikkim was conferred with the title of ‘Film Friendly State’ at the 67th National Film Awards recently…

This National award is prestigious and holds a special place in my life as it’s in tenure of Prem Singh Tamang Golay as the Chief Minister of Sikkim and me as the Chairperson of Sikkim Film Board that we could make it happen. This is an award of each and every Sikkimese. Many thanks to IPR Department and predecessors involved in it. My special thanks to the 67th National Film Award jury Mr Ravi Kottarakara -who has been a constant guide and support to us, Mr Firdausul Hasan , Mr Shaji N. Karun, external advisor to the Film Board Mrs Anita Gupta among others.

What is the message to the global filmmakers?

Holding on to this title as the most Film Friendly State in India is quite challenging but I find any sort of adversities and challenges interesting as they give me more strength to work hard and make things successful. Sikkim Government identifies this as the next big opportunity and supports and welcomes the international and national filmmakers who wish to `Shoot in Sikkim´ with huge subsidy schemes upto Rs 1 crore in cash and kind according to Film Policy. Other facilities include single window clearance permit done through Film Facilitation Office, logistics such as hotels and accommodation, and vehicle provided in subsidised rate after the Sikkim entry point. One bus shall be provided free of cost to international filmmakers. Government has made the shoot in Sikkim very producer and filmmaker friendly. We have good set of line producers empanelled with the board to make the recce convenient and viable for Filmmakers.

What is the state of film sector in Sikkim? What has been the impact of Covid-19?

Sikkim at present is seeing phenomenal changes as far as creative art is concerned. The state government is tirelessly working on creating a conducive ecosystem in making Sikkim a favoured destination for filmmakers. The State Film Board has already chartered the Film Policy which not only helps in projecting the state as a premium filmmaking destination but also helps in upliftment of local performing artistes, filmmakers, entertainment business professionals.
The government has been very vigilant under the guidance of the Chief Minister P S Tamang and was well prepared in advance for Covid-19 pandemic. Various measures were already in place which helped the state considerably in keeping the cases to zero for a very long time. Though the pandemic did hit all sectors of the state, the resilience of the people have made it possible in bouncing back and fighting continuously.

Sikkim, the Paradise of Filmmakers, Pickle Media
What is the objective of Sikkim Film Board? Is a Film City being considered to be built in Sikkim?

Films are arguably one of the most important and impactful sectors in a modern society. It is a universal power of communication which not only records great events but also plays a key role in shaping society. Thus the objective of the Sikkim Film Board is not just to make Sikkim as a pivotal filmmaking destination but also give platform to the tremendous pool of talents that we have available in the state.

One of the visions under the leadership of Chief Minister Tamang is to set up a Film City in the state. The idea behind it is to create and build a robust and modern Film City in Sikkim which would serve as a complete film Production Facility.

Cinemas from North Eastern States are emerging as a film centre of India…

Cinema is universal, beyond flags and borders and passports. North East India serves as a region which is linguistically and culturally diverse thus having a wide array of stories to tell. Directors and filmmakers of the region are now leaping forward into the cinematic world. From internationally and nationally acclaimed filmmakers like Rima Das, Pradip Kurbah, Manju Borah, Dominic Sangma, Bobby Barauh, we have our own homegrown talents from Sikkim like Shyam Pradhan, Ugyen Chopel, Prashant Rasaily, Karma Takapa who have been successful in creating a niche for themselves in the map. Personalities like Bhupen Hazarika, Salil Chowdhury, S.D.Burman, Seema Biswas and Danny Denzongpa have made huge contributions at various national levels.

There is abundance of talent in the North East places like Assam, Arunachal, Manipur, Meghalaya. Many talents are now heading to global film festival circuit.

Cinema in the North-East is undergoing a forward transition and their creative vision is finding a space globally. Film Festivals have opened up avenues for budding film makers to screen their movies at large platforms like the New York Indian Film Festival, International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Karlovy Vary International Film Festival etc.

Do you get local talent to help global and domestic filmmakers?

Sikkim has unlimited pool of local talents who have been showcasing their talents not just nationally but globally as well. Various personalities have contributed in the mainstream Indian cinema and made a mark for themselves such as Danny Denzongpa, Geetanjali Thapa and Karma Takapa. Immense number of local talents are readily available to prove and make a mark domestically and globally.

Sikkim is looking at conducting a Film Festival. What are the plans?

To promote local performing artistes, filmmakers, entertainment business professionals and create a self-sufficient and world class film industry in Sikkim, the state government is planning on hosting a Film Festival later this year. It will not just showcase the local talents of filmmakers but also plans to felicitate and give out awards to encourage production of films of aesthetic and technical excellence and social relevance.

Sikkim, the Paradise of Filmmakers, Pickle Media
How is the infrastructure being developed in Sikkim for filmmakers?

A dedicated institution on Film and Television apart from the Film City has been envisioned by the government of Sikkim where film making courses will be imparted. The State Government also plans to create labs in consultation with National Film Development Corporation which will include Screen Writers’ Lab, Directors’ Lab, Producers’ Lab, Animation Lab so as to create a Media and Entertainment Hub. Setting up of screen theatres/community halls and upgradation and modernisation of the facilities in the existing cinema halls are also in the pipeline.

What is unique about Sikkim? What are the three things that one can cherish in Sikkim which is rare in other places?

Sikkim is blessed with an abundance of natural wealth, diverse culture, rich tradition and a riveting history. It is a picturesque paradise which is unparalleled to any other place in the world.

Assistance in permissions, Provision of empanelled Line Producers, Security, Location Scouting, Audition Facilities, Production Office, Meeting/Conference Halls, Conveyance, Lodging, Food and other pre-production support facilities within the state of Sikkim with ease of doing business through single window clearances.

The state government shall promote and facilitate, in assistance with filmmakers from the state, FAM trips (familiarisation trips) for potential investors, filmmakers, policy makers, film professionals and other stakeholders to encourage investments and incentives in this sector.

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