The Brigade of Gurkhas has been a special unit within the British army for 200 years. Boys are recruited for the unit in the mountain villages of Nepal. In Who Will Be a Gurkha, director Kesang Tseten observes how these boys fare in this rigorous three-phase selection procedure extending over six months. The aspiring soldiers' physical condition, intelligence and motivation are all put to the test. It means that the selection isn't only a matter of fitness and muscle power, but also of the right mental preparation. The Gurkhas are known for their courage and fighting spirit, and they fight, just like regular British soldiers, in areas of conflict such as Iraq and Afghanistan. They consider it a great honor to be part of the brigade, but perhaps the British salary also helps. Some have prepared themselves well, while others got their training from shady "academies" that unfortunately don't give them the same advantage. Gossip and prejudice lead some boys to think that certain castes are getting priority over others, or that some positions are up for sale. But the selection procedure is "free, fair and transparent," something that the British commanders often repeat. Archive footage is alternated with recent scenes of the boys training and, in their spare time, singing. In this way, the film provides a broad perspective on a 200-year-old military tradition that still provides status to young Nepalese men.
IDFA Bertha Fund
Kesang Tseten from Shunyata Film Production