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Banaras - A Mystic Love Story Review

Banaras - A Mystic Love Story
Neha Mathur / fullhyd.com
EDITOR RATING
5.0
Performances
Script
Music/Soundtrack
Visuals
NA
NA
NA
NA
Suggestions
Can watch again
NA
Good for kids
NA
Good for dates
NA
Wait to rent it
NA
The lyrical though rather unoriginal sounding phrase accompanying the title of this film - "A Mystic Love Story" - holds a somewhat dubious role. The mystic acts as both deterrent and incentive, simultaneously barricading the moviegoer from going to the ticket counter and prodding him on. None of us wants to be endlessly tormented with some mumbo-jumbo trash. But like the brave soldier, you're ready to take a bullet or two.

So how do you fare? Or more importantly, how does Banaras fare?

To put it simply, "Smoke gets in the eyes." There are patches in the movie that pinch the eye (quelling all cerebral activity), but then there are momentary spells where Banaras redeems itself. It's almost as if Parashar is desperately toiling to rescue his film from expected muddle and mummery.

The plot takes the road much travelled. Shwetambari (Urmila Matondkar) overhears Soham's (Ashmit Patel) routine sa-re-ga-ma recital, and very soon the two are roaming Banaras like a pair of turtledoves. Their hangouts are mainly a boat afloat the Ganga maiyya, the ghats, and Buddha's Sarnath. No wonder they're so rarefied.

But the cruel hand of destiny scraps out the love story. Soham's familial roots are unknown as he is adopted by a low-caste woman. Shwetambari's aristocratic Brahmin parents (Dimple Kapadia and Raj Babbar) are too deeply trenched in mucky casteism. Trouble brews, and sweet Soham is conveniently bumped off.

So where's the mysticism? Enter Babaji (Naseeruddin Shah), Soham's guru, the holy man who recycles into existence every century. Babaji introduces our hero to the enchanting world of philosophy. Under his wing, Soham chants Om, does some tapasya, and gains spiritual realization - he experiences sahaj (the oneness of man with the Divine), and you are treated to a montage of volcanic eruptions, blooming buds and the vast oceans. A bit corny, but what the heck, movies just aren't movies without the corny.

The guru, at regular intervals, expounds on the subject of the inner eye whereby one can discover the innate interdependence of mind and matter. This feels right out of the pages of one of Sogyal Rinpoche's many works. Which, mind you, is a good thing.

The occultism does tend to get a wee bit trite, but Naseeruddin saves it from turning into empty bombast. Alluions are made to Kabir, Buddha and Tulsidas. Soham is analogous to Sant Kabir in that he too is an outcaste, and like the sufi sant attains realization through divine love.

Before anything else, the astute observation that Urmila can be quite irksome. There's a constant twitch dancing on her lips and she just can't resist expanding the orbs of her eyes. Barfing wouldn't be an inappropriate response to this. Though in all fairness she plays the sanyasin bit with much more grace and much less melodrama.

The whole movie is in the form of a flashback - Shwetambari's painful past. It is she who is the quintessential gurumata, the female renunciate who heals others.

The showstopper is the rather fetching Ashmit. Mind the crude simile, but he's very much like this savoury dish made even more palatable after being dressed up in those elegant Fab India kurtas. Yeah, so he's damn fine, but on screen he seems perpetually "Harry Potter - Stupefied". He's there alright, but that's about it - he's just there.

The second bit of the movie has Shwetambari going nutty post Soham's murder. She discovers her parents' connivance in this vicious act. That more or less pushes her over the edge. But that push sets her free. The widow in white is metamorphosed into a renowned teacher of metaphysics.

The guru - shisya relationship is a thematic consistency through Banaras. Babaji enlightens both Soham and Shwetambari, and Soham is Shwetambari's mentor. Wonder why it's always a male mentor condescending to awaken the lost female soul?

Shwetambari is faced with the eternal human predicament - whether to forget and forgive. Whether to return to abandoned Banaras. Of course, she goes back to her dying father, rescues her murderous mother, and everything's peachy. Her beloved Soham visits her regularly, apparition and all. So it's really a mystic love story.

Only one thing I would give anything to know is, how Kabirdas, in the other world, would rate Banaras. He would be the ultimate reviewer now, wouldn't he?
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Banaras - A Mystic Love Story (hindi) reviews
USER RATING
8.0
9 USERS
RATE
Rating is quick and easy - try it!
  • Cast
    Urmila Matondkar, Ashmit Patel, Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Raj Babbar
  • Music
    Himesh Reshammiya
  • Director
    Pankaj Parashar
  • Theatres
    Not screening currently in any theatres in Hyderabad.
1 - 4 OF 4 COMMENTS
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USER RATING
8.0
9 USERS
Performances
Script
Music/Soundtrack
Visuals
NA
NA
NA
NA
Can watch again - NA
Good for kids - NA
Good for dates - NA
Wait to rent it - NA
Kabir on 27th Apr 2006, 4:38pm | Permalink
Dear Ms.Neha



The review that you have written for Banaras is exactly what had happened



what happened when Tulsidas wrote Ramayana in local Awadhi language. The Sanscrit scholars thought it to be below their dignity even to comment upon it..



Centuries later who is remembered?

Tusidas or those utter fearful Pundits?



for your GK Kabir was never KabirDAS just goes to show how much u know.....
RATING
10
Anil K on 27th Apr 2006, 4:20pm | Permalink
This movie brings immense satisfaction to people who seek spirituality. It is Torturous for those (crtics like u) who have never sailed the boat of spirituality.
RATING
10
Prakash on 13th Apr 2006, 10:30pm | Permalink
The review is good. The story line stinks......
RATING
2
Abhi Rama on 8th Apr 2006, 8:12am | Permalink
one star for the review.somebody wants to show off their language skills.
RATING
2
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