Indie film from India, just got even more intelligent
Boasting stunning production design and cinematography, dark themes, powerhouse performances and edge-of-your-seat storyline, Feast Of Varanasi provides a peak into the complex, sacred and colourful world of this ancient city, once described by the American author Mark Twain as ‘older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and twice as old as all of them put together.’
The story centres around a spate of gruesome killings, where four young girls have been burned to death. Beyond the capabilities of the local police force, a CBI officer from New Delhi is sent to investigate. For officer Arjun Das (Adil Hussain, Life Of Pi, The Reluctant Fundamentalist), it’s a return to his home and a city he left behind. What he discovers goes beyond anything he imagined and as ‘Holi’ the festival of colour approaches, the killer prepares to claim the greatest sacrifice of all and in doing so, attain moksha.
Meanwhile, following her mother’s suicide, Helen (Holly Gilbert, Doctors, Casualty), a young English teacher with a troubled past arrives in Varanasi to deliver her mother’s final letter and a special pendant to her aunt Agatha (Judi Bowker, Clash Of The Titan), a missionary who has dedicated her life to caring for low caste children. Still grieving for her mother, Helen discovers some startling truths about herself and begins to unravel some deep seated emotional trauma with the help of Nana (Ashwath Bhatt, Haider), a reclusive priest who lives on the fringes of the forest. She soon learns about the serial killer and her own future is tied to the desperate acts of the illusive killer.
Debut director Rajan Kumar Patel comments on the inspiration for the script and why he took the leap into filmmaking. 'At first, even my editor Sean Barton (Jagged Edge, Return of the Jedi), thought I was crazy', he says. For a novice to make the leap from zero film making experience to shooting on a 35mm camera, in a foreign country, with a mix of British and Indian cast and crew was a great leap of faith. However, he told me it was a baptism of fire that deserved his support.
The idea of the film came after I attended a funeral in London. As the coffin passed through the veil and vanished, I was transported to the shores of the Ganges where I looked upon the dying flames of a funeral pyre and a lone priest watching over it. My thoughts turned deeper and I found myself wondering if this priest was as pure as he looked or whether there was mischief under his skin. Therein I found myself my first character - Nana, the reclusive priest. I came home and shared the idea with my wife. I knew by her reaction that I had to write the story. Five years later, it’s an incredible honour to be premiering the film in London. I hope the audience approves.' Feast Of Varanasi is a compelling, tense drama, which will throw up some unexpected surprises for even the most avid of thriller fans.
The movie is released in UK cinemas on Friday 11th March 2016.