Between establishing his travel company called Terton Travel Bhutan and managing his art space in Thimpu to co-directing the upcoming Mountain Echoes Literary Festival, actor-entrepreneur-author Kelly Dorji has his hands full. We caught up with Dorji to tell us about his favourite places to travel to and about his recent book titled, ‘Hidden Rainbow‘. By Amitha Ameen
1. How important is a festival like Mountain Echoes for today’s youth?
Mountain Echoes as a festival is very important for the youth of Bhutan and India as it showcases literary giants, theatre maestros, film geniuses and great musical talents. When youth from our two countries are exposed to this gathering, creative juices and minds are opened to many positive possibilities that encourage youth to take steps towards their creativity and interactions.
2. As a co-director of this literary festival, tell us a bit about your journey?
I always joke that I haven’t read a book since Facebook! But when my friend and co-director Tshering Tashi, along with Mita Kapur got me involved in the second or third edition, I was amazed at how exciting the possibilities were. So I served as an advisor for a few years before Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck approved my coming on board officially. I feel a great sense of responsibility and encourage many more in Bhutan to come forward and get involved. I was a voracious reader in my youth and I understand that life can get busy as professionals in a ‘rat race world’, so it is important to inculcate reading as a habit and discipline in our children.
3. Apart from being an actor, you have now written a yet-to-be-released book, ‘Hidden Rainbow’. How did that happen?
HH Maharani Priyadarshini Scindia used to gift me colouring books as she knew I liked art. In 2015, I decided that I would like to create something that is a marriage of traditional Buddhist iconography and contemporary art, terming it ‘spiritual fiction’ as I am not well versed in religious connotations. Mita Kapur took time to guide me in the process and found me a platform through the wonderful Penguin publishing. Each colouring page comes with a write-up on its meaning. The book is dedicated to Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck.
4. Tell us about your upcoming projects?
I took time out for two years to establish my travel company called Terton Travel Bhutan as well as my art space in Thimphu. Offers for films have dwindled as the industry moves on but I have been reading scripts for series based work that I find exciting. But, I don’t believe I want to do mainstream commercial cinema anymore as I cannot devote enough time to jumping around and would rather concentrate on single projects at a time.
5. What is your most favourite place to travel to?
I have found a love for the interiors in Bhutan. My favourite place to travel to is Phobjikha valley within Bhutan, and I also would love to explore Thailand some more.
6. What kind of traveller are you?
These days, whether I travel for a day or a week, I find I pack the same amount! I miss those days when I used to go to the airport and just pick a destination, get on a flight and just go. I would buy clothes and toiletries at my destination. I explored so much of Rajasthan and Goa that way, without even a backpack.
7. What does luxury travel mean to you?
Luxury travel comes with certain amenities. What makes the experience luxurious is the service and the interaction you get from destinations. My best trips have been filled with champagne breakfasts that enhance the joy of the environment in the mornings. That to me is luxury.
8. What are three things you never travel without?
Money, my mobile, and my meditation (yes meditation is a thing).
9. Do you prefer solo or group travel?
I have mostly travelled solo and sometimes with a partner. I am kind of a lone wolf. But, when I do travel in a group, I adjust quickly as I love getting to know people and sharing experiences with others. Incidentally, because of this trait of mine, I build in customised itineraries in all my group travel offers for Bhutan.