Award-winning director Khyentse Norbu’s (The Cup, Travellers And Magicians, Vara A Blessing) newest film is the intriguingly titled Looking For A Lady With Fangs and A Moustache. Set in Kathmandu, the film’s tale is the journey of a worldly 30-year-old man, Tenzin, who is caught between the modern and traditional worlds of Nepal. Somewhat driven and obsessive, Tenzin is focused single-mindedly on creating Kathmandu’s best coffee shop. Though he disparages superstition, Tenzin is suddenly tormented by peculiar and recurring dreams and images that signal his imminent death. On the advice of a cool monk and the MASTER of the Left-Hand Lineage (secret Buddhist wisdom lineage), a sceptical Tenzin must seek out a very special woman – a “Dakini” who may have a moustache, fangs and a third eye… What happens on Tenzin’s journey? Does he find the Dakini and live a new life? Well, you will have to wait to realize and experience what happens to him when you watch the movie.
To get a feel for this film here is the trailer:
Some films leave you stunned once it fades to black and the credits run. This mystery interlaced with drama film is that type of piece, but it is also more. It is a film that stays with you and you find yourself thinking of it and specific scenes weeks later. That is the artistry of Looking For A Lady With Fangs and A Moustache. In a special interview with BollySpice, Mr. Norbu explained he wanted audiences to experience different types of cinema and especially ‘appreciate stories that are outside of the stereotypes which we tend to expect from dramatic films’. He most definitely achieved that with this film.
Looking for A Lady with Fangs and A Moustache is a film that has to be experienced rather than watched. It is the ambience, the locations and performances that tell the story. From the myriad characters especially Tenzin and his life in the film, the choices of the silence, the shots of the beauty of Nepal and making it almost a main character, the modern bustling maze of life in Kathmandu juxtaposed to the traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices that are still alive today – we are transported there into the movie in the many moments, we are not just watching the story play out. That is what makes the film so interesting and so good.
Mr. Norbu wrote in the press notes that he gives ‘the audience plenty of time for contemplation, so images may not move fast and may even stand still for a period’. Adding, he wanted ‘to catch the magical qualities of life through the eyes of a character.’ This really creates the entire essence and feeling of the movie and is such a brilliant way to tell the story.
The cinematography by Mark Lee Ping-Bing is outstanding. He shoots Tenzin within the world of busy streets, quiet mountains, dreamlike fields, the modern looks of the cafe, the old temples and also the rituals and traditions within Kathmandu and more amazing focus on this film’s story with mastery. One shot that really made me pause and rewind was within the abandoned temple of the Goddess Kali at the beginning of the film. It was so atmospherically cool and really enhanced the spirit of the scene and shined a light on perhaps the story to come. All of his shots create the mood and in many ways is the story of the film since there is very little dialogue.
Fascinatingly, all the characters are not played by professional actors and they are fabulous. Again, you never feel you are watching a movie, you are just there within the lives of the characters: Tenzin, the modern monk, the traditional sage, the elusive Dakini, as well as Tenzin’s best friend Jachung, a young Tibetan songstress Kunsel with a secret life, her father, a music teacher, NAMLING (elder dignified Tibetan man), who works to preserve a traditional Tibetan song art on the verge of extinction and many more. There is such genuine emotion, warmth and realness to their performances that really make the movie.
Tsering Tashi Gyalthang as Tenzin is absolutely incredible. Tenzin’s journey from intense coffee house entrepreneur, to as Mr Norbu revealed ‘the journey through the fear and paranoia of imminent death and finally to come to the realization that to live even for a moment is such a precious thing’ is brilliantly played out in his performance. You saw, felt and experienced his range of emotions, the changes from staid young man, to the lost and scared seeker, and finally to the end of his mystery filled dramatic tale just in his face and body language without much dialogue. You were immersed in the odyssey with him and that is a mark of an ACTOR. He was Tenzin, he was not playing him.
Looking For A Lady With Fangs And A Moustache is a film that must be taken in, contemplated, felt, but that is what makes it so engaging, intriguing, immersing, and so fascinating to watch.
The film will have a virtual live premiere screening on April 8th hosted by The Rubin Museum of Art in New York City and then The Global Watch Now @ Home Cinema Release will be the following day on April 9th.
Be sure to also read our Director Khyentse Norbu interview .