One of the most challenging things the team of the Voice of the Lake documentary faced was to understand how to tell the story through the characters’ mother tongue. Georgina Barreiro, the director of the documentary, says, “In that way they can express themselves more freely and it is also a way to preserve their culture.”
Translating to the language that the audience can understand can be hard work. You have to be aware of the context and try to find the correct words while remaining true to their meaning.
The main language in Sikkim is Nepali. Most of the people there can understand each other in Nepali. There are also lots of people who came from Tibet, especially older people and the Tibetan Buddhists teachings are also spoken in Tibetan. Therefore, all the monks learn Tibetan.
Khechuperi, the location of the documentary, is the land of Bhutia and Lepcha people and they have their own language called Bhutia and Lepcha, respectively, which are completely different from each other. Every child learns his family’s language according to his tribe.
Since its incorporation with India, lots of Indian families live around Sikkim and most of the tourists are Indian, so Hinduism is all also prevalent. In private schools, teachers come from other places, so they speak English. You can also hear English words in everyday language as well. Therefore, in one conversation itself you can hear different languages.
Luckily, we had the collaboration of Baichung, one of the main characters of the film, who is also an excellent translator and is the only person who can understand that wonderful universe of languages from Khechuperi.