Banaras, A Mystic Love Story

Banaras is not a destination its a journey of our lives. If you go to watch this movie for a ready-made solution or only to "kill" two hours, you may get disappointed. Banaras is aimed to create a thirst for something one is generally uncomfortable to explore.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


dear sir,

so accidents, murders,careless driving ...are all destined ?i get the part about destiny , but i dont understand it akin to : shweta saying to her mother that she did not commit any sin. i can understand forgivness but i dont understand how its not a 'sin'....intent?

An accident, a murder and careless drving are outcome of different "causes" e.g. reckless driving, revenge, retribition, anger, frustration and drinking etc. At the same time, there are events that are absolutely beyond our control at the time they take place, e.g. the big bang, the floods, the famine, the hail storm (though we have evidence that some of these events too, are results of our actions). We need to remember that human psyche is really one and we need to be prepared for the actions which we allow others to take on our behalf. We must remember that all our actions affect the collective psyche of humans and the happenings around us.

I had used the word "intent" in the existential context. It must not be misunderstood to be a justification for some one to harm someone.

When Shweta talks to her mother about she not having committed any sin, she is, in a manner, taking responsibility of mother's actions and empathising with her. She is able to see( relate to ) her up bringing and psyche and is able to "appreciate" how she could have taken that action. She understands that her mother, in her mind, genuinely believed that she would be happier without Soham, so much so that she arranged to eliminate him.

This is what Shweta refers to, her not having committed any sin, as she is able to see the reason for her mother's actions.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Review of Banaras from a mystic

Here is a review, I am reproducing verbatim.

Love. LC

Dear Sir,I am a mystic. I thought you might be interested in reading these commentson your movie.With love and best wishes,Prem

: Saturday, May 27, 2006 9:49 AMSubject: Banaras - a mystic love story>

Hmmmmmmmm! Bang(intoxicating drink), Holi(festival of colors) and> Urmila(Bollywood birdie!)! A combo meal is a good deal!>> I watched this movie "Banaras - a mystic love story" - a tapestry of> mysticism, forbidden love, enlightenment, death, murder, social evil of> casteism, scandals, the human drama of guilt and forgiveness, etc. The> movie is set against the backdrop of the ancient mystic city> "Banaras/Benares/Varanasi" - temples, fortresses, princely estates,> burning ghats, Ganges river, rituals, sages, masters, and even comedy> twists with charlatans.>> How they portrayed the enlightenment process, truly blew my mind. The guy> has a romantic conversation with the girl in the gardens of Sarnath -> place of Buddha's first sermon - when he collapses on her lap as the> Kundalini erupts inside and the garden begins to flower.>> I was stunned by the awareness of the director, he definitely sounds like> a mystic.

They are sitting on the banks of the Ganges river under a> treee, where the river winds around. He mentions about J.Krishnamurti's> experience of Buddha there on a passing note. I was stunned!>> Every scene when Babaji walks or rides on a horse back into Soham's life,> it is like a fairy tale. The way they bring in statues, temples, flowers,> plants, musical instruments in to the picture - wow! the art form truly is> really impressive.>> The cinematography is really a treat to the eye. The songs and dances> have an ethereal quality. The music has good beat.>> The climax I thought was building up like an anticlimax.

But I realized I> was just expecting a human end to the human drama. How silly I am! Among> the thousands of movies, where good guy kills the bad guy and gets the hot> buxom chick(I have no complaints! aahaha!), Banaras is certainly a rare> one among the few of those exceptional movies. My salutes to the people> who did it!>> It is a simple and beautiful movie, the Truth is always simple you know.> I just cannot believe they are making such movies with Great Awareness.> Is the whole world getting enlightened and expanding awareness? Wow!>> Dont worry the DVD has English subtitles, I could follow. You dont need> to know Hindi!>>>>

In some moments Urmila overacts, and Amit Patel doesnt act. ahahaha! But> you know, when one dish is messed up, do you complain about the whole> spicy and juicy buffet, a lunch with the Gods!>> Soham means the meeting of the masculine and feminine energy, or the> junction point of Ida and Pingala nerves! There are some mystical> elements that you may not understand, if you are not a mystic.>> Albert Einstein: "The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity> in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives. "> "When the solution is simple, God is answering.">> Happy Memorial day weekend!>> Cheers,> Prem.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Seed, the plant and Soham

The Seed, the plant and Soham

In the movie Banaras the seed as a character appeared fairly early. It came because of my spontaneous relationship with plants. Being one of the most meditative, peaceful and nonjudgmental beings on the planet they have always fascinated me.

Try looking at the leaves, flowers and the petals, their delicate patterns, unbelievable shades of colors and incredible designs. It has ability to transport us to a completely different dimension.

I used to have a very small garden (some selected plants in my balcony, really) when I used to live in Mumbai. These were plants that I would choose by visiting a few nurseries in the suburb.

One day I brought a plant with no leaves. I have no reason why I selected this plant except, that I felt, it needed my attention.

I would personally water the plant regularly feed it with some “growth tablets” and give a lot of attention without any “intention” really. It was like feeding a child without any anticipation.

One evening when I came back from office, my happiness had no bounds. Two little green leaves were breaking away from its delicate stem skin.
Three days later many leaves had come out and the whole plant had come alive. The plant in this state seemed to be radiating life. When I sat on a chair next to it, I transcended the boundary around the plant and could feel its “being”. In that moment, filled with complete joy, overwhelmed, I got up and kissed the plant.

A divine connection.

Two days later the plant dried up.

I shuddered. An inner voice emerged: ".......The plant achieved its purpose. It no longer needed to be in life….. The kiss was its destiny."

Babaji hands over a divine seed (every seed that you see is divine) to Soham and tells him that it had the potential to flower and become a tree. Soham is in unison with the plant.

After the enlightenment, soham has understood the nature and interconnectedness of all beings. He knows that the plant itself was a manifestation of him. Therefore when he sees his own death approaching, Soham gives another manifestation of himself (the plant) to Shwetambari.

The plant continues to be with Shwetambari as a passive reminder of Soham (Since she is very afraid and unsure of what had happened) until she is reveled upon the truth about Babaji, and therefore the plant.

When Dr Bhattacharya directly attacks the existence of the plant and ridicules its true nature of being (…..“The one who died hundreds of year’s ego don’t come and distribute seeds, even if that place is Banaras”….)

Notice, in the film, when Shwetambari goes to play the piano after telling Dr Bhattacharya to go and seek the answers, camera has the “blazed” plant in the foreground when dazed Dr Bhattacharya walks out of her room.

In that moment, all the separation vanishes as Shwetambari and the plant (therefore Soham) become one and Banaras opens the doors of mysticism for wandering Dr Bhattacharya when he truly becomes a seeker.

Please tell that you visited this blog

I would be pleased to find your footprints on my blog.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The life of Dr Bhattacharya, not unlike our own

There was a request from some of you to talk on how some of the characters were conceived.
In that series I begin first with Dr Bhattacharya....

please do read and raise questions and also please give your own views. In all of us there is an element of Dr bhattacharya.

The rationalist, Dr Bhattacharya

Who is Dr Bhattacharya?

He is educated, suave, successful and one who seem to have all the answers.

He was born, like many of us, among believers. He was also, as most of us , eager for recognition, hungry for success. He was also restless enough to follow his dream relentlessly.

In the process he makes sacrifices but succeeds. Makes a name for him and lives a very satisfying life, a kind of life we all aspire to.

I was very comfortable with this character. We all can see the reflection of our ambition in Dr Bhattacharya. We admire the way he would have overcome his handicaps and succeeded in America where excellence thrives.

And then suddenly without a warning, life changes its color to turn gray. Dr Bhattacharya is diagnosed with lung cancer. This takes a heavy toll on the first system of which he is a part of, his family. His wife decides to detach herself from this suffering and leaves him to deal with his own destiny. This is what breaks Dr Bhattacharya. He was scientifically trained to accept death and therefore was willing to cope with it but he was not prepared for the dark response from someone who was an integral part of himself.

By contrast, his daughter, Anjali, out of sheer love for her father abandons her studies and ambitions and accompanies him to Banaras when Dr Bhattacharya returns to connect with the soil where he was born. This act of his was not rational, not even emotional but more like a spiritual quest unknown even to him. In the film we have tried to demonstrate the colors, life can take and our non preparedness to face them.

In Dr Bhattacharya’s life we see peaks and troughs of love and self pity, devotion and betrayal, rationality and faith.

It’s a role which was created to show us all a mirror to reflect, provoke and prepare for what can come to be faced in any one of our lives.

For, remember, we can not absolutely control what happens in our lives but we can certainly control our response to face whatever may happen. It is for this reason that the mystics talk about living and loving the life with a sense of detachment.

It is in that sense, that, we alone hold the key to the destiny of our lives that we create a heaven or hell.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Banaras : The Novel (Coming on this blog)

Dear friends,

This is to inform you all, that, based on the film Banaras, a mystic love story, Mr Kiran Khalap ( Author of "Half way to the mountain", Creative director Chlorophyll, thinker, philosopher and a close friend) has completed a novel titled " The song of Banaras".

In order to give a more elaborate perspective to the reader the author has given an unique approach to his narrative.

He writes the book with the point of view of the film's main characters. They write their own point of view and happenings around them and with reasons why they chose actions that they did.

Within the next few days you will view the first chapter of the novel on this blog.

This will the first view of the first chapter of The song of Banaras that anyone would have seen it anywhere..

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The destiny of Banaras the movie

Banaras the movie is an intent. It had to happen. And so it did.
The idea chose me rather than the other way around.

It implanted in me, a lot of passion and the right amount of madness so I could ignore the "rational" commercial aspects while undertaking the venture. I trust thats how these things happen. I know that a lot of people must be laughing at my "madness" and even ridiculing my efforts but the thrill of being a medium of something like Banaras is a blessing that a few would comprehend.

I remember, one day, Pankuj Parashar, who could obviosly see the risks of making such a movie more than I, being a friend told me to consider the idea to abandon making Banaras in favour of an "erotic thriller". This, according to him, would be a far sensible commercial proposition. I think, I took less than a second to tell him that I was not making a movie for the love of Bollywood or money but through me Banaras wanted to be reborn and thats what I was going to do.

For years I was consumed with Banaras. I have kept awake at nights thinking about the plight of Shwetambari. I lived with every character to know, to understand and to empathise with it. Notice, that every character in the movie, evolves; be it Soham, Shwetambari , Gayatri, Mahendranath, Mahamaya or Gunjan.

The movie is about individul evolution. It's about having flaws and overcoming them. It's about making the right choices; e.g. reacting to other's actions or responding in compassion.

I learnt screenplay writing that taught to create drama and pull for the next scene, in every scene. ( I was aware why Sanjay Leela Bansali chose to make Devdas so loud!). I debated a lot in my mind. I knew the risk of depending upon the drama of mind which demands attention and was also aware that the average moviegoer of today goes to theatre for recreation and not to apply brain, but something in me remained admant not to compromise the simlicity and purity of narration. What could that be?

This movie could not be anything but what it is because it was created to look like this and not like anything else. Whatever may have been its fate on the box office it was born with its own destiny.

The destiny, that is its own.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Free will vs Destiny

meeta said...

how much is destined and how much is free will?. soham says to gunjan that it is all destined.can destiny be changed by hard work/prayer/penance?
were soham and the psychatrist both destined to die. but miracles do occcur and the psychatrist was saved???
when one brother killed the other in anger was it both brothers destiny or was a life cut short?

11:42 AM

Dear Meeta,

A simple answer would be that free will and destiny are as a double helix intertwined
We get born to particular parents; we never had a choice. We were born in a particular country; we had no choice. We were raised in a particular way; we had very little choice. The truth is that all of the above on which we had very little choice have good bearing on how we make our choices.

A lot of events that happen in our lives that we have no control, yet how we deal with them are certainly our choice.

How we act and how others act collectively within a society or how others react to our action has also got a bearing on how shall we act in future. So each “system” that we are a part of, also has a significant bearing on how we make our choices.

This is not the place to discuss the systems and cybernetic influences while exercising a so called “free will”, but it’s enough to say that, many times we merely believe to have made a choice out of our free will, where as the truth is, that a person in fear (which we all are under: fear of some kind) does never make a choice out of free will.

That was also the context in the movie when Babaji tells Soham what he wanted to hear. He was in love with Shwetambari and at that time, to be with her was the only thing that mattered to him. Yet he was afraid to admit it. A “free will” he exercises only when he is enlightened and decides to continue being with her. I say it a free will because that was done, not in fear but in complete awareness.

However what happens to Soham was indeed the destiny.

Let’s now look at a totally different example of destiny and free will.

Taking a particular road is your choice, driving at a particular speed is your choice but a drunk jumping in front of your car and getting injured is the destiny. Again running away from that place and not reporting to police is your choice (i.e. if that choice did exist J ). The most important aspect of this accident, however, would be as to how you deal with it. You can act responsibly with compassion or act like an irresponsible being.

But the question would be, in making that choice, how free is your will? Like if you were aware of the area where accident took place and knew of a case where a driver was lynched for causing an accident, you would possibly run away even though you had real intention to act responsibly.

In a circumstance that you have the option to apply a free will, see if you are free of all prejudice and fear and then make a choice.

To your other question, let’s face it we all are destined to die. But to an aware soul death draws no fear. Soham had gone far beyond death and fear. In fact Shwetambari reflects on this when talking to Dr Bhattacharya that “Sohams” don’t die in Banaras. Dr Bhattacharya seemed to have answer for everything yet under a deep trauma when he abandons all his knowledge, his own mind creates a reality out of his own latent faith.

When one brother kills another it’s a collective response of a system of which they both were a part. Don’t blame one brother alone. He only pulled the trigger. As far the Supreme intelligence, life and death, time and space they are just intent.

Friday, May 05, 2006


meeta said...
sir, i was drawn to the diffrent paths to worship of god of soham and shwetambari can you elaborate on the idea behind it


The destination of attainment is a pathless journey.
We have to have our own path.

When someone asked Guruvar Rabindranath Tagore why there were thousands of Gods for Hindus, his reply was a revelation. He said that it was most unfortunate. There should be as many Gods as people.

Soham' upbringing is one of a mystic. He has been told the true meaning of a prayer right in the childhood. He understands the meaning of vibrations (chants, music and meditation). He worships in his every act.

Shwetambari, on the other hand, is a Brahmin girl from Banaras, the abode of lord Shiva. She believes in him and worships him with complete faith. When she sends Dr Bhattacharya to seek the God, he lands up at Lolak kund (believed to be the forehead of lord Shiva) where he sees a miracle ( or may be he "self creates" that reality).

My own father used to worship lord Shiva and later Krisna( only he knew the reason for his shift). But my grandfather hated idol worship because he was a follower of Dayanand Sarswati's pilosophy. So much so, that he used to often throw away the idols which my father used to keep in a small temple he himself had built.

What was even more amazing, that, my father, yet had the highest respect for his father until his death.

Incidentaly my mother follows Kabir and meditates for 2 hours everyday and engages me in intense spiritual discussion whenever I am with her. And by the way, she is 92.

Thou art that

Deepti said...
hello Sir,I've been inspired by swana's & meeta's discussion about banaras to put forward a question to you... I asked few more people & nobody gave me an answer... may be they felt I'm not on that level yet to understand (which is possible!!)... could you please kindly express your thoughts in the simplest possible way...if 'Aham Brahmasmi' (I am Brahman) is true for everyone, then why are we affected by Maya... if we are 'Him' then how can The Creator be affected by His own Creation... why did He/we cause this veil or separation at all...?
7:32 AM

Imagine (though not easily conceivable) there to be "nothing", only supreme intelligence (SI) filling the whole void.

Then an "idea" (for the lack of a more appropriate word) appears in form of an intent "to be".
With that the matter, time and distance gets created; and thus the "separation". But in order to feel the separation ( i.e. to be) a "part" of the SI appears.

However since the "part" is in a physical world it must follow its rules. The "fear" is created to help the "part" to indentify itself in order to survive. And the "design" is for the "part" to be able to "see" this, in time, in its life. And when it is able to do ( which is the destiny of everyone), the "part" is said to be enlightened. This is said by Soham when he describes his experience at Sarnath.

After that awareness the "part" becomes aware of the "absurdity" of time and space and separation. Hence as the "part" becomes aware of the truth, it develops a detatched view to the "illusionary world".

The question arises, therefore, that in the movie why does Soham cry while embracing Shwetambari for the last time?

The answer is simple. He doesn't cry because he is afraid of dying. He does so because he is aware of the pain, Shwetambari has to go through after his death. He cries thinking about her pain. It was created as a beautiful thought for people who would get it.

Your question was not a simple one. Upanishads as well as science have dealt with it in much detail. However, what I have mentioned here is what I have understood after studying everything including science, religeon and philosophy.

Hope it is useful to you.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The path to enlightenment

Last week-end, the director of Banaras, Pankuj Parashar was invited to a show of the film. At the end of the screening the audience gave a standing ovation. And that would probably be expected as common courtesy but what happened next ,really embarassed Mr Prashar. Two ladies from the audience approached him and actually touched his feet.... ....

There was also an interesting question raised by one viewer which is what I would like to discuss here.

Q..Is the path to enlightenment always so painful? ( An obvious reference to what happens in the movie)

"Attachment" is said to be the biggest hurdle to attainment. Attachment to wealth, stature, success, siblings, father, mother, spouse, children, home, vehicle, pets, plants and life. There are prized possessions to hang on to. There is so much comfort in clinging on to them.

Breaking away is never going to be easy. All our sensory systems are programmed to feel pain even at the thought of separation. Hence we feel stuck.

Stuck, because we seem incapable of even being aware of the world around us. This is the dilemna Soham faced when he asks Babaji if Shwetambari was his destiny. Once Babaji explains that love can not be touched or known it could only be experienced, Soham goes ahead and expresses his feelings to Swetambari.

He now realises that her love is not physical. It has no limitations. His physical desire for Shwetambari is overcome by his spiritual quest to completely unify with her soul.

Enlightement is not separation. Its true unification. Its attaining a state of complete awareness and unity with everything.

Some pain in the path of attainment, therefore, seems a small price to pay : )