The Path Less Travelled...
Tom Alter in the Path of Zarathustra
With the immense sadness of violence being used to snuff out any opposition – violence of the gun, of the word, of the mind, of the spirit – what I was fortunate to witness yesterday evening in Mumbai was nothing less than a miracle –
Imagine the scene – the PVR in Juhu, deep within a mall, deep within the sweaty heart of the Mumbai film industry – deep within the even sweatier heart of modern India – and a film being screened there called “The Path of Zarathustra” – the path traveled for centuries, since the beginning of civilization – but today traveled by less than 80,000 Indians – about twice the number that fills the Wankhede Stadium to watch an IPL match – and the story of that path – told with such subtle wisdom and beauty, is screened in the form of a film in Juhu, Mumbai – at a PVR – a miracle –
This miracle has been directed, and is starring, Oorvazi Irani – a young Parsi woman from Mumbai, who plays a young Parsi woman from Mumbai who is inspired by her mystical, dying grandfather to discover the truth of her faith and herself – the film is the path the young lady follows, filled with visions and love and sadness and struggle – as the path of any seeker is –
The miracle being actually screened, and now released, is a deep tribute to both the vision of PVR and the untiring energy of Oorvazi and her father, Sorab Irani, a veteran of the Hindi film industry – not Bollywood – who used all his experience and skills to see the film onto the screen.
The path – the film – is like a mirage -- it shimmers, it shines, it has it shadows – in terms of visuals, and thoughts – Farrukh Dhondy has crafted the script with precise wonder; Subhadeep Dey and his camera colour and create both the mirage and the reality with strokes of light and dark beauty; the editing of Tushar Ghogale allows the film to breath, and yet controls it with deft ease; the music by Vasuda Sharma echoes with just the right sur; the costumes by Suvarnareha Jadhav flow with elegant and simple colours in the sea-breezes – and the performances – controlled and yet emotional – starting from Oorvazi to Rushad Rana as her searching lover, to Shishir Sharma as ‘time’, to Vivek Tandon as ‘orthodoxy’ – to Darius Shroff and Firdausi Jussawala as delightful ‘heretics’ – each character is etched with wit and wisdom.
In her search for truth and self, Oorvazi delves deep into her own faith – but the path is not just the path of the Parsis – it is the path we must all walk today, as religion is used as either a wall or a weapon, and tradition a hammer to batter the delicate questions of faith into submission – the film provides as many questions as answers, but – in the end – we realize, as we should always have known, that faith is a personal quest, and each of us must pursue that quest – alone, at first, and then, if we are blessed, with a companion who not only understands, but challenges.
See “The Path of Zarathustra” as it releases in a PVR near you – see it for the courage of the people who made the film – who released it – see it for the beauty of cinema – see it for yourself, above all else.
(This is a regular column by well known theatre and movie actor Tom Alter)