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Hill shows its Happy face
- Darjeeling residents make tribute video on Pharrell Williams’s song to promote hometown

Darjeeling, May 28: Pharrell Williams has made Darjeeling clap along and make its own Happy tribute song.

Happy, the world-wide hit number from Despicable Me 2, has spawned over 1,500 tribute videos — from Tehran to Calcutta, and now Darjeeling.

“When the whole world is coming up with a tribute video, we, too, decided to come up with ours. We released it on YouTube (on May 25) and it has registered more than 15,000 hits,” said 27-year-old Sikher Chettri, who has a video production studio in Darjeeling.

Chettri got help from a motley home team — professional photographer Smriti Rahel Philip, hotelier Prawin Pradhan, dentist Priyanka Rai, musician Bibek Thapa and singer Pragya Lama.

The three-minute-plus video shows Darjeeling residents channelling their happy vibe as Williams’s song plays.

The name of the YouTube video is not as short as the one-word original title. It is called Happy Darjeeling-We are from Darjeeling, India, ‘Queen of the Hills’.

“It took us about a week to shoot. We tried to capture the happiness of the people in Darjeeling. Since the Happy tributes are the most seen and talked about videos at the moment, our work would serve to promote Darjeeling and showcase its beauty to people around the world,” Chettri said.

“The aim was to shoot impromptu,” Smriti said. “We went around town, told some people about the Happy concept and asked them to do a few steps. Students of schools such as Loreto Convent and Vidya Vikash Academy helped us.”

The locations for the shoots were chosen to capture the sights and sounds of Darjeeling. The video featured people at Darjeeling main promenade Chowrasta, the railway station, the Peace Pagoda, the Rink Mall, the Lloyd Botanical Garden, St Andrew’s Church and the Mahakal temple, among a few.

The youngest among the performers were six-year-old twins in their identical yellow dresses. Maya and Tara Rai, students of Loreto Convent, got featured in the video primarily because of their father Vikram’s enthusiasm.

“The Pharrell song is well-known and we were aware of the tremendous interest it has generated across the world. When Shikher called to shoot with my kids, I immediately agreed. It is a good way of letting the world know about Darjeeling. Moreover, the theme of the Pharrell song goes with Darjeeling. The people are always smiling and they always overcome their daily burdens with a smile,” Vikram said.

One of the Happy tribute videos has been in the news for an unhappy reason. In Iran, three girls and three boys were arrested by police earlier this month for dancing in the video that hurt public chastity. The girls, without veils on, had danced in living rooms, rooftops and public places.

There was global outcry over the arrests and Iran released them days later.

In May 2013, when the hills were supposed to be buzzing with summertime tourists, it was in the grip of a general strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha after one of its leaders, Chandra Yonzone, was arrested for allegedly burning down the home of a Trinamul leader.

This summer has turned out to be happier, dare we say. The tourists are back, and some residents have found the right tune to celebrate.