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.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

If it's not music, It is not Banaras

Music, Meditation, Mysticism and Banaras

Would you recall Dr Bhattacharya gasping for air and being pushed around by the Sadhus inside Lolark Kund? I bet you were preparing yourself for Dr Bhattacharya to collapse and possibly die any minute.

You may also recall the chorus of chants which was playing on the back of the violent notes of piano depicting the agony of Dr Bhattacharya.

That has always been one my favorite scenes ….and that background music was written as a part of the first draft of the script.

The background score of Banaras is the highlight of the film and is the key in creating an atmosphere of meditation and mysticism. We had put a huge amount of research in choosing the chants and the hymns.

Remember the vibrations of; Buddham Sharanam Gachhami…
Asato ma sadgamaya, Tamaso ma …

Music is an integral part of the mystical Banaras. We needed a voice which touches the divinity and yet remains human.

We chose the professional “ yet sweet and innocent” voice of Sanjiv Abhyankar (a protégé of the illustrious Pt. Jasraj) to deliver the classical notes that enhance the atmosphere to meditative levels. The enchanting female voice, which touches a chord in your heart every time you hear her, belongs to lovely Neha.

The flute was played by Pt. (young Rakesh) Chaurasia. Remember the scene where Babaji playing the hypnotic flute, when Soham’s body is being carried to the Mankarnika ghat?

There was the great debate of whether to stick to convention Tabla and Dholak for beats or use modern instruments. We finally used the later.

The background score was the result of some great efforts by Mr. Sodhi who was absolutely immersed in the color of “Banaras”.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Soham’s don’t die in Banaras

(Mystics on the bank of Ganges in "Banaras")

Dear Mr. Singh

I don’t know if this comment fits in with the Free Will vs. Destiny discussion or the Mad Professor section. But here it is.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (HHGG) has given us a new concept: Probability.

We are ALL aware and comfortable with the 3 dimensions of space. We are adept at traveling anywhere in the spatial coordinates. MANY of us are aware of TIME as the 4th dimension. Quantum physics says it is indeed possible in the sub-atomic world to do time-travel.

My posit is: Change happens when one makes a committed decision in one direction. At that point, there is a certain probability p that one decided one way and a probability p' that one decided the other way.

HHGG in its own inimitable way shows both worlds to exist; moreover, the characters in HHGG merrily travel from one world to the other along the Probability axis.

So, there is a world where Shweta and Soham live happily ever after, and a world which follows the script of Benaras the Film.

And somebody empowered like Babaji can easily visit both worlds.

How does this affect the Free Will vs. Destiny discussion?

Pravin Gandhi

Dear Pravin,

A lot happens or doesn’t happen to us because of own limitations in understanding of our ability. Our “knowledge-based” thinking and sensory approach to looking at the world is the biggest limitation of all.

A mystic must necessarily shed those limitations before beginning to look at the world to explore the truth.

So, are we ready?

Soham is dead. And with his death, the other possibilities of his being alive and being with Shwetambari disappeared.

In a normal world that is it. He is dead and Shwetambari is in despair. And that’s the truth. Simple!

But lo behold! Soon, Shwetambari says, Sohams don’t die in Banaras (Banaras being just a metaphor and represents the whole world). How could that be? Either he was dead or alive. Yet, Shwetambari (whose understanding goes through a major modification after being told about Babaji’s death), says that for her Soham was not dead.

When Dr Bhattacharya quizzes her as to whether she sees him, her reply was a negative and reasons being her own limitations.

However, between now and the time when she is able show Soham even to her mother, she overcomes of her limitation and goes through a transformation.

What was that transformation?
Essentially, overcoming her limitation.

As she begins to understand the truth about Babaji and his relationship with Soham, a revelation comes to her. When enlightenment dawns upon her she overcomes all her limitations and suddenly all the probabilities come alive.

You see Pravin, the truth is that there is no time and in the state Shwetambari, Soham and Babaji are in they all are dead and alive all the time.

Eric's reality vs the world of a virus

A Question was raised by Eric reproduced below.

"Dear Mr. Sing

When thinking about the structure of the universe and our laws of physics I think that it is important to remember that our sense of logic is arbitrary.

Hypothetically, let's say that an all powerful god created logic, and all events that followed conform to this logic i.e. 1+1=2 and anything times 0 = 0. What were the rules before logic was created? Before the laws of physics and symetry were decided on? Could an all powerful god have made it different? By definition of an "all powerful god" the answer would have to be yes. What if he could have made air non transparent and allow conscious beings to be able to navigate through the atomosphere just as we do today? What if instead of 6 senses god gave us 10 or 12 or invented a universe where the idea of numbers or Euclidian geometry were null? An all powerful god could have.

Why only 3 spatial dimensions and one of time? Our meager human brains come up with the answer: that is the way it had to be for us to exist. For an all powerful god not bound by the rules of logic or physics, it could have been any way he wanted. We could have had 12 dimensions of space instead of 3. He could have created a world where we could know the differnce between good and evil without ever having to experience evil. He could have made us never have to experience pain to experience pleasure. I think you get the point here.

The only thing that makes sense is that an all powerful got made a random choice using his free will and we are.

Free will is a random jump out of our programing right? Creative thought has to come from something outside ourselves. When making decisions we take a random jump out of our own genetic programming and experience and open ourselves up to accept an idea that seems to come to us out of nowhere and instantly. Maybe the universe, laws of physics, and symetry are all the result of a random act of god's free will. An electron randomly makes a decision to wind up going through the left slit or the right in the double slit experience. Maybe god did the same thing.

The universe may not have been an accident, but to say that the way we perceive the universe to be is the only way that it could be for us to survive is just not true.

What do you think?


(The Mystical Banaras)

Dear Eric,

The statements, you make about God (I prefer to refer to as Super Intelligence to avoid any overtones) indeed has ways and ways that it could have constructed the logic and physical laws and the sensory systems different than we know of and firmly believe that all the other variations that you talk about may exist right where we are.

The point I make is, that, we are “designed and constructed” in way that we see the world in a particular way and we deduce that to be the reality. That we experience the time and space and the curvatures the way we are meant to. And there could, in the same time and space as ourselves, be entities who are equipped to perceive the world totally different than us.

Therefore, I am deducing that the world, in fact, has no specific reality but the way it is perceived by the observer as per the design of its logic, sensibilities and the instrumentation.

I agree that we could have survived in infinite ways and could have been designed some other way. However in all other cases than what we are, our perception of the reality would have been different than what we perceive it as us.

I wonder, if a virus was to write about the reality of the world, what would that be?

Ulrich Mohrhoff, the quantum scientist and spiritualist, on Banaras

"Dear Mr. Singh,

Yesterday my wife Vishwajyoti and I watched your movie Banaras-a mystic love story. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised, for I am generally not a fan of Hindi movies. Unfortunately I missed much of the poetry in the songs and dialogues, which my wife tells me that the subtlety got lost in the translation to subtitles.

I am not a film critic, so please expect no expert comments.

I was touched by the story and believe in the ancient Indian wisdom that the movie was trying to recall. It is certainly not a movie that will appeal to the masses, but numbers don't count in these matters. Banaras has the potential to awaken a soul to higher realities, and if this happens to a few, it has achieved more than any of the blockbusters.



Ulrich Mohrhoff
Location:Pondicherry, India
Teaches maths, physics, and quantum philosophy at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in Pondicherry.

His blog can visited at:

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Scintillating songs of Banaras: Created by the genius of Himesh Reshammiya

I feel that the songs and music of “Banaras” by Himesh has got the feel to touch your soul. And I say that with conviction cause I was a witness to the efforts and its evolution.

The songs, like the movie have been composed to break away from the stereotypes that we normally associate to “Spirituality”.

With you, I like to go into the background of each song that was written and composed, keeping in mind, the contemporary style, relevance to the place and the ragas. The songs were created to conveying all colors of human emotions. Each song was so blended into the story line that while it goes on the film keeps moving forward.

For each song we have our own special name for it and they all are based on different ragas of Banaras gharana (school of musical style)

Purab se – Bhajan song
Rang dalo- Holi song
Ishq Mein Dilko-Love song “Pagal”
Kitna Pyaar Karte hain- Sad song ‘Himesh song”
Yeh hain Shaan Banaras ki-Title song
Bajooband Khul Khul Jaye- competition song

The first song that we recorded was Purab se jab sooraj nikle (Om Namah Shivay). Song writer Sameer, who also hails from Banaras, was briefed of the situation. The song had to introduce the visuals of Banaras, the context of its origin in the mythology of Lord Shiva, the ringing of bells which is heard at intervals in Banaras throughout day and night. Sameer, who himself is a devotee of Shiva, hit it in his very first attempt. Himesh who too is a firm believer, composed the tune with such passion that as soon we heard it in his own voice, we approved it.

The Holi song and the love song were created next. I hail from Banaras and I was keen to introduce the touches of Banarasi holi and therefore requested some grass root level of sounds. I also requested to begin the song with some popular Banarasi tunes. Sonu Nigam and Shreya rendered the catchy tune beautifully.

We wanted a little more ethnicity in the female voice, so we had the song sung by Shailesh, a folk artist in place of Shreya. In the CD of the film you will find both the versions.

The love song 'Pagal' sung by Sonu is as close to Rafi’s voice as possible. The way Sonu has captured and sung, it’s simply brilliant. The only reason that it didn’t become the #1 chart buster, because we refused to remix it and didn’t get enough time to promote it.
Let me mention here that Himesh always believed that is one of the best tunes he ever created. The song brings out the essence of being “lost” in love. Himesh got Sunidhi to sing the song in a “new voice” and nobody could get that it was her!!

Kitna Pyaar:
We have a secret to share about the song. When we went for shooting of the film, the song was yet not ready. We were desperate to shoot the song since we had fixed schedules. A week before the shoot, Himesh sent us a song (we had told him we wanted something may be, in Sufi style, conveying the suffering of shattered Shwetambari).

We played the song and took shots of Urmila. Urmila, however, was not excited. She told me “Sir, in this song I feel like the hero has just gone to Pune leaving me in Bombay. That’s all. I just can’t feel that deep pain.”

Anyways when we came back from the shooting and asked Himesh if he could give another song. Himesh ( always cooperative) went back to his creativity and sent us another “scratch” in his voice. The minute we heard “kitna Pyaar” we all jumped!!

Himesh got some known singers to sing the song. As we heard them, we were disappointed. There was more pain in the scratch than any of the “big” singer’s voices. Himesh tried with them again but to no avail.

Himesh finally called us to say that if we liked the scratch, should he give it a try? He had just finished the recording of “Aashiq banaya”. We heard that song and told him to please do ours. Himesh took three days and came back to us with the song recorded in his voice.

We were enthralled.. So ours, in reality, was the second song he recorded after “Aashiq Banaya”.

Hats off to Urmila for having completed the shoot without the real song and thanks to Himesh for bearing us!!

The final song to be recorded was the Title song Yeh hain Shaan Banaras Ki.

The Shloka in the song is written by Ved Vyas on Banaras and the rest of the lyrics are written by Sameer.
Himesh recorded the song with my favorite classical singer “Sanjeev Abhyakar” ( a protégé of Pt. Jasraj), Initially the song was recorded with synthesized sounds. Pankuj Parashar, the director of the film is very good friend of the famous drummer Sivamani. He flew from Bangalore and spent whole day and night and gave authentic drum beats, sounds to the song. Sivmani visits Banaras every year and the first thing that he does is to take a holy dip in Banaras. That’s why in the whole song you will find different sounds of different instruments as is heard while being on the ghats. ….. bells… drums, … chants of har har mahadev. That’s how the song got that “Banaras” zing .

Himesh in his recent interview on TV said that Banaras was his best “Album”.

I thank Himesh and Sameer for giving us the songs which form the integral part of the movie "Banaras" and I believe that they will keep playing for ever in radio, television and our minds.......

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"Heart warming", Banaras

Suffering? Oh!..... It must be the life.

A few days back I received a call from a reporter of one of the top national dailies. She had Something to tell me person to person about Banaras.

Sometime back she had lost someone very close to her and because of that she was in total despair. Then she Saw Banaras. The movie gave a lot of hope and solace to her. She wanted to thank me for making a movie which brought her out of the anguish.

It is heart warming to hear that Banaras is making difference in people’s lives!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Ghostly purposeless existence or a well designed (Quantum) plan?


A Ghostly purposeless existence or a well designed (Quantum) plan?

“Aisa Lagta hai jaise in paramanuon ne milkar ek saajish kee ho, ek aise sansaar ke rachanaa kee, jisme ham paida ho saken aur rah saken.

Aaaj science ke saamne sabse badaa prashna yeh hai ki, is there a physical reality?,..kya sab kuchh illusion hai?….kya kuchh hai hi naheen?”….…Dr. Karandikar in Banaras.

It looks as if they (quantum particles) conspired with each other to create a world where we can get born, live and are able unveil the secret behind our own existence…………….or is it all a random accident?

The Sun... Water ... Air !!.,
The fertile soil.. The plants and fruits.. The animals..The galaxies.. The stars.. The moon.. The gravitation.. The electricity.. The rotation of the earth… The rotation of the moon. The atomic force.
A miraculously caring earth.. A tolerant atmosphere.

Take a look at inside of an atom: The huge empty space inside, the miraculously balanced combination of forces and the apparent intelligence of each constituent!

Does it all look like an accident to you?

Take a look around yourself: Beautiful flowers, lovely garden, pretty girls( if you are a male) or handsome boys (if you are a female).

For a moment just imagine if air was black or dark blue?

What a misery it would be? We would be able to see nothing. No flowers. No garden. No pretty girls or handsome boys.

In fact no light would reach the earth. so no food for plants…. hence no food for animals…therefore no food for humans. And then Finito…..Finish….. End of every life.

What an accident? The two most abundant things on the planet are air and water and they both are transparent!

Think about it. Why are these created to be transparent? At the face it looks like a very intricate plan. As if someone had known that one day we would be coming on the planet. (Lets not get too excited and begin to feel important) The nature is cleverer than that. It doesn’t have to plan for so long. It simply creates a set of eyes which sees the air and water (irrespective of the reality) to look transparent.
Imagine the world now. It’s not that air is transparent. It looks transparent because our eyes have been designed to see through them, so that, we can live and survive.
Similarly, our sensory organs are designed to experience the world precisely the way we do. It has nothing to do with the reality of how the world really is. It is just the way we are designed to experience it.

That is why mystics, when they give up their sensory approach to looking at things, they are able to experience a world different than our perception and they call our world to be an “illusion”.

This is also the miraculous design of nature which has empowered us with the capacity to “see”( for the lack of a better word) the truth of the matter much beyond our normal self and understand the true nature of self and experience the Truth.

I have often wondered how does Kittu (she thinks I am her pet) perceive the world?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Why did we make Banaras the way we did?

Dear Anonymous,

Three weeks back, while on travel, I promised to answer your question, sincerely.
So, first your questions and then my answers.

Anonymous said...

What I haven`t understood?

- Banaras - If the intention was to make a movie which can provoke people to think, why did you put commercial element like songs and dance. Now it is in middle, not fit for commercial consumption nor right for film festivals. Look at Deepa Mehta Water, its running successfully across world...

- If the intention was not commerical, why did you choose commercial actors, rather than actors who excel in realism acting. It could have provided more depth to the movie, isn't it? Urmila as mata doesn't sound right.

- If people has not seen movie (, why would someone buy a novel? Doesn't it make sense to introduce novel simultaneously or before the movie to generate interest.

- Making movie is a dirty business. Why a person of your caliber and repute go into this line when you have a technology company to run?

Monday, May 22, 2006 2:37:05 PM


Foremost, let me admit that it was indeed a learning experience for me so I understand that all my appraoches may not have been most optimised.

Secondly, we could not fit the content of the movie in any known genre, so we decided to create one. As I had mentioned before elsewhere in blog, I am never scared to experiment. So you call it my "experiment" to mix the "commercial" and "art" forms together. I believe we actually succeeded in doing that, though, I completely agree with you, that, this did not suit neither the "commercial" nor the "festival" circuits.

To be frank, I had desire to see the idea thatI had in my mind, to be put on celluloid in a manner which was not "boring"; hence a difficult subject in commercial format with known stars.

Regarding its success?.... How does one judge the success of such a film?

There are thousands of people whose lives have been touched by the movie and I believe the message of Banaras will keep spreading though time.

The success of a "temple" is not measured by commercial success, I guess!

Regarding, my IT company, with all the new technologies, it was easy to manage both. My company Nihilent Technologies has continued to expand very successfully and I have no intention to be a permanent "fixture" of the commercial film indstry.

Hope I have answerd your questions.

Kind affections

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The "mad" science Professor and Babaji ...contd.

In response to Prof. Karandikar's question as to how are the distant quantum particles able to communicate instantly.... Babaji says:

"Every particle of the creation in connected with each other as there is no boundary present anywhere. The boundaries are only in our mind. That which we are able to understand becomes science........"

Let us take this statement and compare to what famous quantum physicist David Bohm( a contemporary of Einstein and his associate) has to say on the subject:

" The central underlying theme of Bohm's theory is the "unbroken wholeness of the totality of existence as an undivided flowing movement without borders."

Bohm believes that this "hiddeness" may be reflective of a deeper dimension of reality. He maintains that space and time might actually be derived from an even deeper level of objective reality. This reality he calls the Implicate Order. Within the Implicate Order everything is connected; and, in theory, any individual element could reveal information about every other element in the universe

Science is needed for progress of mankind and must be pursued relentlessly. However philosophy, mysticism and scripture must not be seen in a confrontational manner and be viewed as new sources of un-verified possible "truths".

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Seeds of Banaras: Graduation speech at Harvard

In the year 1996, I was fortunate to speak on the graduation ceremony at Harvard Business School. The seed of Banaras was already implanted in my mind.

I am reproducing the speech with some very minor modifications.


Benares is the oldest city on earth. It is known as the spiritual capital of India. Benares is where Buddha chose to give his first sermon after the enlightenment.

Drawn by the mystique, a few years back I visited a “master” who lived in a tiny hut on the banks of river Ganges. It will be useful to point out that I am not exactly a “religious” person and I am against all fragmentation, dogmas and judgments.

As I entered the hut, I was overwhelmed by my feelings. There was a calmness, tranquility and serenity beyond words. As I looked at the master, a spontaneous smile flashed on his face. Time and space simply froze.

The other day I was walking in the lawns of the campus here. A child three or four years old was playing with his mother. Seeing me he ran, stopped and stood blocking my way, smiling. No purpose ….No reason. My response was not a thought but a flash. For few divine moments …there was no Harvard … no child … no mother … no “I”. I became the boy.
Experiences beyond boundaries, transcendental.

The master continued to smile. My ego soon took control. I came back to reality. In retrospect, I don’t know which the actual reality was: The moment of timeless experience or being back with the conditioned mind and all the thoughts?

I was again an intellectual ready to discuss and question. Looking at the master, I managed to ask,” Sir, why is there so much evil in the universe?

“Son, all the evil is in your mind. Clear it from there and you will witness a different world,” the master replied.

I felt offended and a little humiliated. I became aggressive, “sir”, I said,” I am a rational being and I have good control over my mind”.

He eyed me affectionately. “Go, in that corner”. He said,” sit inside the prayer circle for ten minutes in lotus posture. A revelation awaits you. While seated pray if you like, think if you like. You can think of all the evil in the world if you like”, he paused and added,” there is only one small condition. Do not think about a monkey.”

Puzzled, I went and sat inside the circle. As soon as I crossed my legs for the posture the first thought came … Guess what...?
Monkey, of course!
I closed my eyes…Monkey and monkey. The monkeys were everywhere. The whole world vanished and became a monkey.

I held my head and opened my eyes. Master was standing in front of me. His eyes were like eternity. His face was glowing with compassion, affection and love.

I got up and he embraced me. By now I was crying unabated like a child.

“Son”, he whispered,” You are born as a seed. Human life is not an actuality. It has some beautiful potentiality. You are not an Intellect. Intellect is competition and competition is primitive. An animal has these instincts by birth. A dog is born as dog and will die as dog. It has no other possibility. It is perfect as dog. With humans it is different. You are compassion, love and pure awareness. Abandon all your conditioning, fragmentation and fear.”
He looked at me for the last time and said, “Son, learn to think not with your mind but with your heart.”
With those words in my ears, the master went away. I never saw him again, ever.

Life is not the past, neither is it future.
It is only the moment, now.
Life is like a musical instrument. Music is possible. Symphony is a potentiality. Life is not keep repeating the same note again and again.

Life is longing for perfection.

Ravindranath Tagore, a great Indian poet and mystique, a Nobel laureate prayed his last prayer to God,” Oh lord, your world was beautiful and you gave me a precious life. I don’t want to disappear yet. I have to sing many songs; I have yet to paint many paintings. There is, yet, in my heart, which needs to bloom. Send me back. Please send me back.” This was his last prayer. He died praying this way. What a beautiful way to die. “Your world was beautiful. I wasn’t worthy of it but you made me. I am not worthy to be sent back but your compassion is great. One more time, send me back. I have to complete my song.”

A friend of Tagore was sitting by his bedside. He couldn’t stop himself,” Ravindra, You must be mad. Shelly is thought to be one of the greatest poets in Europe. He wrote only two thousand songs, you wrote six thousand. You beat him three times. You should be happy and contented.”

Tagore opened his tearful eyes—“I am not. Yes, six thousand songs I have sung but you don’t know the inside story. I wanted to sing only one song but because it was never possible… I tried once failed. I tried again failed. I failed six thousand times. Those are all efforts. That which I wanted to sing, my friend, is till unsung.”

My brothers and sisters, the pursuit of the perfection, let us begin, here and now. Pray lord, that this quest continues life after life after life.
In this journey my friends:
The pen is not important, only the poem is,
The brush is not important, only the painting is,
The instrument is not important only the music is,
The perfect symphony is not important, only the effort is.

Let us pray to the almighty to bless us to succeed in our pursuit of the perfect symphony.

God bless us all.


Please tell that you visited this blog

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

Banaras: A Mystic Love Story NY Times review

Banãras: A Mystic Love Story
2006-India » Rate or Review 'Banãras: A Mystic Love Story'

Average Reader Rating


A divine experience called Banaras, April 25, 2006

Reviewer: india3000

This film does not fall into a known genre and hence a lot of confusion around its reviews. Once in a blue moon an independent producer has conviction to produce something he/she believes in but doesn't fit into a genre. Banaras falls into this category.

Its a film which can be termed "art", "commercial" and "documentary" all wrapperd in one. Banaras is not a film you can go to theatres and enjoy with your friends. You can not keep your cell phone switched on or keep gossipping with your friends while the movie is playing. It's an experince just like meditation. It deals with Quantum as well as reality and rationality. It deals with the nature of "truth" and the nature of "fear" in our day to day bahaviour. By no means it's a religeous film. Its deeply spiritual. The story in the film is just like a prop. Just an example of what can happen to any of us anywhere in the world. There is no preaching and conclusions drawn in the film. It is all left to the viewers to deduce their own conclusion.

Banaras is certainly about evolution of human race and the interconncted world.I personally have nevr been impacted by any other movie before like I am with Banaras. Go and experience it yourself. In the past Tarkowski and Bergman have tried to touch the the nature of existence and God in some manner but never like what you may experience in Banaras.

A movie capable of transforming lives.

Banaras: A Mystic Love Story location snaps (Contd:)

Contd.. The series of on location snaps:

Ashmit, Preparing for the shot when adult Soham appears for the first time in the movie in the meditation shot:

Urmila, preparing for the scene where she hears the devastating news about Soham.

Urmila & Ashmit :Preparing for the scene where Soham tells Shewta "I love you":

Urmila: Shweta returning to Banaras outsde the Varanasi airport:

A real yogi, who would still be found on the ghats of Banaras. (When uur auditioned actor failed to appear on the scheduled day and were desperately auditioning the local talent, came across this real yogi who looked exactly what we had in mind. In fact, we did not have to do any makeup before the shoot):

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Banaras: A Mystic Love Story location snaps

It’s time that I introduced the team which worked behind the scenes to make “Banaras” happen. The pictures that you see were taken on the location in Banaras and Mauritius where most of the film was shot.

Director: Pankuj Parashar
Chief Assistant Director: Bablu
Assistant Director: Yash

Pankuj & his assistant Yash and with his other crew members while shooting the scene, where Buddha with his followers walks on the banks of Ganges in Banaras.

Chief Asstt. Bablu with his assistant preparing to shoot the ghat scenes.

Script & Dialogue co writer: Javed Siddiqi
Executive Producer: Inder Kumar
Lyricist: Sameer
Director of photography (dop): Nirav Shah

Pankuj, Sameer, Javed & I, at the mahurat recording of the songs

Nirav in Mauritius enjoying dinner at Le Meridian

I & Inder Kumar on location hunting for the movie.(camera has been clicked by Pankuj Parashar)
In front of “Mahendranath's Bunglow” ( Ramnagar Palace)

Some other behind the scenes shots of : Urmila, Dimple, Ashmit & Naseer

Bold Urmila:
Scene where she is informed about her father's illness: standing on a cliff with a very big drop and she was standing right at the edge.( Uncomfortable with the risk) when I told Urmila that she should stand away from the edge, she shrugged her shoulders and said that “If it is needed, it must be done”. Now you know those were real fearsome tides which were hitting the rocks and rising hundreds of feet (the tides were for real, not computer generated)

Urmila preparing for her opening scene:

Dimple - Mother & Urmila-Daughter Bonding:

Friday, June 09, 2006

Thoughts behind naming the characters in the movie

Soham: A lot of discussion has already happened around “Soham”. In short Soham stands for “I am that” or “Aham Brahmashmi”.

Shwetambari: Shwet (white) stands for the divine and pure. Ambar (sky) stands for infinite vastness and openness. Shwetambari is meant to communicate someone who is pure and has a very big heart. Someone infinitely compassionate.

Gayatri Devi: Gayatri is a powerful mantra. The name was meant to create an effect of royalty. Someone regal and unalterable.

Mahendra Nath: Initially we wanted to name the father as Mahanth Mahendra Nath Mishra. A Mahanth is the religious head associated with the temples and denotes glory and power. However, to avoid any controversy around any association being drawn with certain individuals, we decided to call him Mahendra ji. Or Mahendra Nath ji.

Babaji: Babaji’s character was certainly inspired by the great ever living seer mentioned in “The autobiography of a yogi”( Translated in more than 17 languages and an international bestseller), by Yogananda. His disciple, therefore who informs about Babaji’s immortality is named Purnanand.

Similarly every character was named to fit the role he/she was playing in the movie. Mahamaya, Gunjan Dvivedi, Chaturang, Satya Pal Shukla were all given their names to look credible in the role they were playing.

Please feel free to comment

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The "mad" science Professor and Babaji

Dr Karandikar and his dilemma

The world of science, especially the quantum world is strange (or even mystical…with due respect to scientists). The idea in the movie, was to illustrate the limitations of science despite the gigantic strides it has taken in the past century. Banaras Hindu University has produced some world class physicists, like Dr Jayant Narlikar and it was only appropriate to bring forth some of the dilemmas of science and explore the answers in the mysticism of Banaras.

Since Babaji represents the mystics of Banaras in the movie, we thought it appropriate to discuss both in the same context.

Dr Karandikar is teaching Shwetambari (through his lecture in the class) and Babaji is educating Soham.

“Two (quantum) particles get separated and travel in different directions from a distant galaxy. After millions of years they are separated by infinite distance… yet they can communicate with each other instantly...According to science this is impossible...Yet it happens...How?” This is the observation Dr Karandikar makes n the class….

If one has no background in quantum phenomenon ( I suspect a lot of audience would be in this category and would be lost right here..) but let me quote John Wheeler, a world renowned theoretical physicist discussing this in a television interview and captured in a book called “ The ghost in the atom”

“…Let us say fortunately there is a quasar (a bright shining star ) by chance situated in space ( some 5 billion light years away) in such a way that its light comes to us by two different routes-each on a different side of a intervening galaxy which just happens to be in the same line of sight in the sky. The two beams are bent by the gravitational field of the intervening galaxy so that they converge on the eye of an observer here on earth………….

The photons (the constituent of the beam of light) reaching us start out more than 5 billion years ago- that is before there was anyone on Earth. Waiting here on Earth we can cast a die and at the very last minute decide whether will observe an interference photon (that is a photon which has come, as we jokingly describe “both ways”) or change our method of registration so that we will find out which way the photon has come. And yet the photon has already accomplished most of its travel by the time we make this decision.”

So despite that photon has already traveled either one way or the other, depending on our choice of the instrument to determine as to whether we want them to have come one way or the other or both ways, they change the evidence of their travel. This is really bizarre and perplexing. When the event has already occurred how can they change the evidence of their travel depending on our detecting measurement? There behavior seems to suggest as we deployed a particular device they seem to have communicated back in time the route that they would take while traveling. This also illustrates that the way we decide to look and view things changes the nature of reality itself.

This is an extremely puzzling phenomenon and not easy to explain. I have tried to put in simple form so that it could somewhat be understood. At the same time let me state that what goes on around us at micro level is far more bizarre than what I have just described above.

Now let us see what Babaji says...

“Every particle of the cosmos is connected with each other. There is no boundary or separation. The separation is only in our mind. What we are able to understand becomes science what we have not understood yet, is mysticism that’s recorded in scriptures.”

We will discuss this detail using the discussions of other scientists as well...

But for now let’s try and understand the first part.

Please leave your comments.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Finally, The song of Banaras......(first two chapters)

The song of Banaras

A novella by Kiran Khalap
after the movie, “Banaras, A Mystic Love Story”

Shwetambari, Anita, Mauritius, Now:

Sea and Wave, Water and River

The wave rises on its hind legs, unsheathes its white claws, pauses before pouncing.

The rocks hunker and brace themselves, dig their feet deeper into the sand, draw a deep breath.

Then the attack: The water rushes into the crannies of the rocks, enters their nostrils, smothers them, growling and hissing.

Wave and sea, sea and wave.

Two words, same thing.

There was water in Banaras too.

But no waves.

Just a tranquil liquid languid wall, gliding towards the sea.

Water and river, river and water.

Two words, same thing.

I stand there on the cliff overlooking the sea, on the brink of the second biggest decision of my life.

I walked away from the man I respected the most in my life, now he is on deathbed, crying out for me to return before he slips away from everybody.

I had felt his anguish even before they informed me of the phone call.

Inside an hour, the quiet river of consciousness within me has been transformed into a broiling sea.

“Didi,” it’s Anita, standing behind the translucent petals of the curtains.
Anita, my shadow, my friend, my secretary for the past decade.


“If you don’t mind my asking, Didi…” Always tentative, not wanting to intrude even on territory that’s rightfully hers.

“Didi…you ended the meditation session abruptly, you didn’t have your evening soup, you haven’t gone to sleep…I am worried…”

“How does one worry about what is inevitable, Anita?”

“I don’t understand, Didi…”

“For that, Anita, we have to return to the beginning…to a man called Soham, who died…to another called Babaji, who apparently never dies…to a mystery called Banaras.”

Sohan aka Soham, Banaras, Past.

On the tips of a trident

In the beginning was a city called Banaras.

Balanced on the tip of Lord Shiva’s trident, balanced between history and mythology.

The only city on the left bank of the mighty river Ganges, the only city facing the East, opening its eyes, every morning, to two suns.

One in the sky, one in the river.

I imagine that the stone steps that led to the river must have been cold at dawn. Daadima told me I was wrapped up in a blanket, the unwanted son of…who?

All my life, as I grow up, I made up stories about my mother to myself.

Who was she?
A young unmarried woman seduced by a local rake?
A farmhand who had been called upon to warm the bed of the drunken landlord?
A careless prostitute?

And what about my father?
A rich Brahmin who couldn’t convince his parents to get him married to a low-caste girl, the girl he said he loved?
A powerful politician, who miscalculated the tenacity of his mistress?

Whoever she was, my mother had placed a good luck charm around my neck, a metal Om.

That’s who I was.

A bawling baby armed with the first sound in the universe. Armed to take on whatever fate had in store for me.

Daadima adopted me and named me Sohan.

This is the way I climbed up a ladder.

From being an illegitimate child to being the adopted child of a low-caste sweeper woman.

One humiliating rung at a time.

Daadima insisted I join school. “Learn to read and write, my baby, it can change your life”.

I remember her rough hand, rough with so many years of holding the broom and sweeping the streets, on my back, as I buried my tears in her embrace after the first day.

“Your highness Mr Sohan, stand up on that last bench. Now tell me why do you want to sit here instead of being out there keeping our lanes clean, that’s your job, isn’t it?” the teacher had said. He was a thin man with thick spectacles, always in a crisp white dhoti and kurta. When he spoke, saliva as foam collected at the corners of his mouth.

One boy sniggered. Another tried to look up my shorts.

“He’s all dirty and unwashed, like all sweepers’!”

I was staring at my toes. My ears were burning.

“What happened, your mother told you not to speak to us high caste people?”

“Doesn’t have a mother…or father!” giggled a third boy.

“Sir, I just want to learn to read and write.” It’s difficult to speak when you actually want to sob.

“And do what…teach Brahmin boys how to do pooja, is it? Come here, let me remind you that you were born to hold a broom and not a pen.”

The cane whipping made my palms bleed. I could not make out what hurt more, the welts on the palm or inside my head.

“Daadima, if I had a big strong father, he would not be afraid. He would have gone and spoken to the teacher… and then the boys wouldn’t tease, and then when I learn to read…”
I slipped into sleep, dreaming of a father with a curled moustache and big muscles, clutching my tormentor by his neck, while I sit giggling, drawing a sketch with my pen, a man holding a squawking chicken.