Ap Bokto

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Ap Bokto
Ap Bokto.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byKarma Dhendup
Produced byKarma Dhendup
StarringPhurba Thinley
Athang Animation Studio
Release date
  • September 2014 (2014-09)
Running time
53 minutes

Ap Bokto is a 2014 Bhutanese 3D computer-animated film produced and directed by Karma Dhendup under Athang Animation Studio.

The film was the first Bhutanese 3D animation film to be made and the first animated film to be based from a Bhutanese folk tale. The story of the film revolves around Ap Bokto who encounters and outwits several wild animals whose goal is to make him as their meal.[1]


Production for the film took more than 2 years with a budget of Nu. 4.5 million. The production team was composed of 30 people. Athang Animation Studio's proprietor, Karma Dhendup directed and produced the film.[2] The film's duration is 53 minutes.[1]


Ap Bokto

(Voiced by:Phurba Thinley)
the main protagonist of the story.


The film was first released in Thimphu in September 2014. The film was scheduled to be screened in other dzongkhags by the start of the academic session in the country. It was briefly screened in Lhuentse but the screening were halted following reports of unauthorized leakage of the film. 5,000 comics in Dzongkha were also made in line with the film. The film is planned to be released in DVD due to its positive reception. As of March 2015, after the initial release, the production team has been adding English subtitles to the film.[2]


Although the film was aimed at targeting kids above five years of age, it overwhelmingly poured in viewers as early as 1 and half years old baby. Internet traffic Analytics showed 30% of nearly half a million viewers of Ap Bokto's trailer on YouTube is from outside Bhutan. Almost every country on earth have accessed this channel except for 8 countries whose traffic did not show any of Ap Bokto's view. The film was positively received by the Bhutanese audience especially by children. By around March 2015, the film, including the relevant comics, has made money amounting to around 40 percent of the Nu. 4.5 million budget. 4,700 of the 5,000 comics made were sold. Karma Dhendup has received invitations from European film festivals due to the film's success.[2]

The popularity of Ap Bokto has paved its way to the Royal Palace of His Highness the Crown Prince of Bhutan "Gyalsay" Jigme Namgyal Wangchuk who is just one and half years old.


The story is based on Bhutanese folktale about the story of Ap (father) Bokto’s encounter with wild animals. He is a poor Bhutanese farmer married with two children living in nuclear family setup. His family lives at the outskirt of a village on his small plot of a farmland located near a forest. As usual he has to go to a village temple (monastery) at an annual ritual to make an offering. But the village temple is located far away from his home for which he has to walk through dense forest to reach there. The day has come for him to go the temple to make an offering at the temple. So he packs his bag and leaves after bidding goodbye to his family. On his way through the forest, he encounters several wild animals who are waiting to devour him! Since the main character, Ap Bokto, is a cunning man, he easily tricks the animals and escapes. First, he encounters a monkey and the later tries to take the life of Ap Bokto. But he pleads to the monkey that he is on sacred journey to make the offering at the temple. The monkey agrees to his plea but demands that Ap Bokto has to see him on his return journey by becoming fatter. So he escapes the monkey! After a while, he meets a bear and the animal too tries to kill him. Ap Bokto again pleads for his life by saying that he does not have enough flesh and blood in his body which will not satisfy the hunger of the bear. The animal let him go but Ap Bokto has to see him on his journey back home. While he is climbing up a path for some time, a leopard ambushes him. Ap Bokto asks for his dear life and tells the leopard like he has tricked the other animals. After much pleading and assurance, the leopard frees him with the condition that he will see the animal on his return journey. After going through all these wild encounters and fear, a tiger jumps on his way threatening Ap Bokto. He is so afraid that he tells the tiger about his encounters with other animals. He assures the animal that he will show up when returns home from the temple. The tiger agrees to the condition and plea and let Ap Bokto continue his journey. At the temple, Ap Bokto enjoys foods and drinks without any worry of his encounters with the wild. There is a festive mood at the temple where so many people have come from different places to make offerings and monks are performing rituals. Towards the end of the ritual, he becomes worried about his return journey to home through the forest for it is the only way! After much thinking, he comes up with a plan. He gets inside a wooden vessel and he rolls it down through the path. Simultaneously, he sings and rolls down through the path in the forest. On his innovative journey in the vessel, the animals who are waiting for him asks that whether he has seen or met Ap Bokto. He replies that he has not seen Ap Bokto. The animals become angry that Ap Bokto has tricked them and they are in fiery mood to avenge. So he escapes the three wild animals: tiger, leopard and bear. But when the monkey sees the vessel rolling down which is making a sound, the animal does not believe it and becomes curious. Ap Bokto knows that the monkey is not tricked and when he tries to roll down the vessel, it breaks! All the animals come chasing after him with the accusation that he has not kept his words. On his tryst to escape, he finally jumps inside a hole in the earth and covers it with broken pieces of the vessel. Then he makes fearful sound from inside which finally drives away the wild animals. He makes a hasty journey back home, and there is his family waiting for him.


Karma Dhendup said that he has received reports that his film. Dhendup's animation studio was approached by a woman who found a flash drive from a customer containing the final 3D copy of the film for theatrical release in February 6, 2015. Dhendup believes that the film could have been leaked as early as the end of January 2015. An investigation was conducted by the animation studio and it was suspected that the one who leaked the film came from the studio's office. Dhendup said that he heard copies of the film reached India.[2] By April 2015, the list of those suspected to have leaked the film has been narrowed down to four people, with some of them with direct relations to Athang.[3]

Purpose and objective making Ap Bokto[edit]

Athang aims to revive and document the Bhutanese folktales digitally. The artworks are also made available in the paper edition. The producer feels that culture of oral tradition (Bhutanese folktales) is diminishing due to Bhutan’s rapid socio-economic development. Accordingly, the decline in the oral tradition is on rise due to onslaught by introduction of TV and Internet in the country since 1999 and also by the influence of western culture into this minority ethnic tradition of Bhutan. Documenting those endangered Bhutanese folktale through digital presentation and publication was felt so that it helped children who are highly vulnerable to the western influence to be knowledgeable about the endangered culture. The movie making used the Bhutanese context of culture and tradition such as in scene and set designing along with the characters development, and moreover, using the national language Dzongkha as the medium of the communication. • Retaining an intangible cultural heritage of Bhutan As storytelling is less being practiced in modern Bhutan, there is a danger of some beautiful village stories are to be lost. It is important that the stories to be recorded so that these invisible assets are kept. In addition to other efforts to record old stories of Bhutan, this movie along with its book also contributes in retaining intangible heritage asset of Bhutan. • Encouraging the creation of local arts and contents Even at this time, very few movies, comics and picture books can be found that tells the real Bhutanese stories. The story of Ap Bokto was meant to produce a sample, hoping that other Bhutanese artists might follow in similar form with more arts and more stories, if the Ap Bokto was well accepted.

• Promotion of National Language: Dzongkha The comic book publication can contribute in the promotion of endangered language "Dzongkha" where few hundred thousand people speaks. This initiative will help Dzongkha speaking people to get more acquainted with the correct usage of certain Dzongkha terms and terminologies, moreover, it will give more emphasis on the correct ways of spoken Dzongkha. This initiative comes at the time with the said ongoing debate that most Bhutanese children and adults alike don’t know how to speak the correct Dzongkha, i.e., most Bhutanese can’t speak Dzongkha without using some English words in between the conversation.


  1. ^ a b Thinley Zangmo (9 October 2014). "A local cartoon character for children". Kuensel. Retrieved 24 August 2015.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d Kinga Dema (6 March 2015). "Animated film producer files piracy police report". Kuensel. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  3. ^ Kinga Dema (16 April 2015). "Search narrows down to four suspects". Kuensel. Retrieved 24 August 2015.[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]