An interview with a state honored trio
The following interview is with three close friends; State Prize Winner-State Honored Actor D. Sosorbaram, Chairman of Gamma Agency-S. Tsatsralt and State Honored Laborer cartoonist-S. Tsogtbayar. The three men have been friends for over 30 years and have devoted their life’s work to many forms of art and creation.
-Let’s begin with how an; actor, photographer and a cartoonist became friends.
-D. Sosorbaram (So): I’m from the countryside, but these other two are from the city. I came to the city in 1978 wearing only a maroon deel.
The Central Postal Office was the only place where I could phone Bayankhongor. I met my two friends in 1982 when I began to work in the Drama Theatre and became close to them after filming “Iluu Sartai Zun.” I think they will say why they found, a foreigner like me ,easyto get acquainted with.
S. Tsatsralt (Tsa): I and Tsogoo (Tso) were part of the “Unen” newspaper union. Our director B. Tsenddoo said, “A very talented and skilled actor is coming over to the city,” and he turned out to be Sosorbaram.
-Friends are always role models to each other and learn a lot from each other, too. Who do you look up to?
-So: I and Tsatsralt always learn valuable lessons from Tsogoo. People go out partying and wish happiness on birthdays. But,Tsogoo goes to his mother to thank her and he takes her many different presents for his mother on his birthday – I learned this important tradition from my friend here.
Tsa: Tell them about, how you became much better friends with his mother than him.
So: Yes, even before I knew Tsogoo well, his mother was like a sister to me. I was ill during the filming of
“Iluu Sartai Zun” and I was nursed in hospital. Tsogoo’s mother “Gunjmaa” was the head cook there and so. I would go out, sing songs and play guitar, which sister Gunjmaa liked very much.
Tso: And that helped you get extra meals.
-So: When I came late she would have warm food for me. Later I met Tsogoo and learned that he’s Gunjmaa’s son.
Before I met him, I used to look at his cartoons he published in the Unen newspaper. I once saw him on a bus stop – he was wearing a very fancy jacket and I just said hello to him on that day. So, when I went to the library and told my friend that “I just bumped into that famous cartoonist”, towhich he replied, “that Tsogoo, he is very skilled indeed”.
Tso: Yes, he used to secretly “eye” me even before Tsatsaa.
So: One of my worst days was when I left the Theatre in 1989 after saying what I had to say (some harsh words) on the stage. I called Tsogoo right then. When I got out of the Theatre I walked into the forest. Now when I think about it, I was very unstable then and I could have done anything. That was when Tsogoo stuck with me and proved his friendship. One of his best qualities is that he wouldn’t drink a drop of alcohol. Me and Tsatsaa would drink till we drop but Tsogoo wouldn’t do it.
-Who do you talk to when you’re contemplating on creating a new work of art? What is the importance of friendship in your creativity?
-So: Before any stage play, my two friends would come days before the actual play and watch it themselves and tell me about their thoughts.
I ran into Ulambadrakh from channel NTV in Japan, and he complimented on our friendship and said he couldshow our play live on NTV. I think friendship is very important in arts.
Tsa: Before I do anything at all, first thing I do is talk about it with my friends. We would meet at either one of our offices. Sosorbaram’s “Ulemjiin Chanar” took us a year. It was a lot of work.
Tso: We began to sing a lot of older songs – create our version of it. Cover songs are great – especially when it is done from a different perspective, revision it in a different “world,” like the Sosorbaram’s version. This one was very successful because Sosorbaram reimagined the world that was sung and represented in the song. It is not possible to sound like Banzragch or Zangad, that would be a bad joke – that is not art. Four years ago we travelled up to Khamriin Monastery right before a play. We didn’t know it at the time but weather forecast warned a storm is on its way. We were in Sosorbaram’s car listening to Ulemjiin Chanar. Our families called us on our phones, warning of the storm. When we looked outside the car, it was pitch black is if a blanked was covering the car. But then a little ray of sunshine broke through all the black cloud and followed us until we reached the zenith of the mountain.
I think the song Ulemjiin Chanar is like a good-luck charm for everyone. When we got out of the car we could not talk about it with each other, out of fear that our friends would accuse each other for superstition. Then one of us said, “Did you guys notice it? The light was moving and following us.”
Then on our way back a horse gave birth to a foal.
So: You mean a mare!
Tsa: Yes. A mare gave birth to a baby foal – it was magical.
Tso: That day was simply brilliant – we saw the sunset as well, it was beautiful.
I don’t like mixing superstition with science. But there were many unexplainable events happened that day. These events made us love this song even more.
So: The reason that Ulemjiin Chanar was liked by so many was that it stayed in the minds of many. Its DVD was made by Badral – it was very good. We proposed a lot of changes to it but nearly none of them were made because the song was perfect the way it was.
Well, I did compile a few changes and I will probably record it again sometime.
Last year, we had a performance by five traditional Mongolian bands. It is named “Mongol,” and it was recently recorded on 1,000 Blu-Ray copies and will be shipped in next month. I watched the DVD and we watched it so many times – one day I went there to watch it again but Tsogoo said “Hey, that’s too much, it’s enough.”
Tso: When Sosorbaram is psyched and excited, he just loses his mind. I don’t think there are any Mongolian works recorded on a Blue-Ray disc. Only that film Aravt was recorded on this very high-definition disc. Its pixel number is high.
Sosorbaram was able to put together a group of very talented and dedicated young men and women for his play. We had five bands before but this year it will be seven bands. No one thought about this before. He was also able to unite all the bands that were competing with each other.
Work of Tsatsralt is always new and innovative. It is possible because he spends his creative talents on not politics, office ranks or the society but on pure imagination and creativity. If he was brewing poisons and talking about politics, these great ideas wouldn’t have borne out of him.
This is how we can prosper. We can only develop through our mind, what can we do with all the materials and wealth? We could be rich but we will be dummies. It is an honor to be friends with people like my friends.
Not only we get together during our happy times, but when we are in grief and stress we call upon each other and share a bottle of vodka. When we experience death, we grieve and feel worse when we think about our own age, and we talk about that a lot too. Truthfully – I hope my cousins and relatives aren’t maddened by this – my friends are a lot closer than my relatives. I think it is so because I meet my friends very frequently. I can relate to them a lot easier than anyone.
Lately, people seem to strongly criticize the younger generation as if they were never young and made mistakes before. But what they fail to understand is that older people learned a lot of rights and wrongs when they were young themselves. All right, I’m going on about a lot of irrelevant things; I’m sorry (laughs).
-Do you guys create a lot of jokes?
-Tsa: Tsogoo’s jokes are all over Facebook.
So: Speaking of jokes, there is a famous cartoon drawing of Tsogoo which I hung on the wall in my office. Sometimes people would come and get me frustrated or even mad. I just turn and look at the drawing to relieve myself out of that stress.
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