Banaras (2006 film)
|Banaras: A Mystic Love Story|
|Directed by||Pankaj Parashar|
|Produced by||L.C. Singh|
|Written by||Javed Siddiqui
|Music by||Himesh Reshammiya|
|Release date(s)||7 April 2006|
Banaras: A Mystic Love Story is the name of an Indian Bollywood film directed by Pankaj Parashar released in 2006. The film takes place in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi (the city, once known as Banaras, serves as a destination for the pilgrimage of millions of Hindu worshippers annually) and is centered on the relationship of a young woman with her parents and her lover. The storyline also has a strong religious dimension. Most of the film was shot in Varanasi, with some scenes shot in Mauritius.
A young woman, Shwetambari (played by Urmila Matondkar) is the daughter to wealthy Brahmin parents, Mahendranath and Gayatri Devi (played by Raj Babbar and Dimple Kapadia respectively) and studies at university in the city. She falls in love with a low-caste mystic named Soham (played by Ashmit Patel). Soham, after one meditative session, is illumined by Babaji, his mentor (played by Naseeruddin Shah) and decides there is no harm in falling in love with the girl from the high-caste Brahmin family. This creates a citywide scandal. Shwetambari's parents initially object but eventually support the relationship, despite the objections of orthodox elements. The orthodox elements of the society discourage the relationship actively, driving Shwetambari to depression. She eventually finds salvation in her religious beliefs. Eventually, when she discovers her own mother caused the murder of her fiance, a disheartened Shwetambari leaves the city.
17 years later, Shwetambari, now a philosopher and religious scholar, is torn between returning to her beloved city of Varanasi to see her dying father, and avoiding all the unpleasantness associated with her inter-caste liaison of the past. She returns, which creates turbulence in the mindscape of her so-called self-realized being.
The film, essentially a love story, makes frequent allusions to Dharmic mysticism and philosophy, with references to Buddha, Kabir, Tulsidas and Adi Shankara. Some reviewers praised this concept, while others criticized it as superficial, presenting a facade of religious piety over what is a standard Bollywood romance. Urmila Matondkar was generally praised for her performance. The film was praised for being rich in human emotions. The acting was received well, and the cinematography was praised with respect to the portrayal of the beauty of the holy city of Varanasi.