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The Path of Zarathustra: The road less travelled

A scene from the film The Path of Zarathustra

A scene from the film The Path of Zarathustra   | Photo Credit: 05dmcZarathusta

Parsis and their existential problems seldom get a fair chance on screen. To fill the gap actor-director Oorvazi Irani has come up with a film that blends fact with fiction to voice the concerns of the diminishing community which sailed to India after facing persecution in Iran. Oorvazi lives with her grandfather (Tom Alter) in a remote village. When he passes away he gives her an abstruse message and a mysterious book. Oorvazi comes to Mumbai to be with Perseus (Rushad Rana), her childhood love who is adopted by her aunt. Now Perseus was born to a Christian mother and a Parsi father and hence was not accepted by the community.

The fact that her grandfather had sent her to him becomes a sort of symbol of embracing the other in the film. The message becomes all the more clear when a reformist puts ideas before an orthodox set of people on how the community can be saved by selling land reserved for sky burial and treating the children born out of marriage of Parsi girls and boys outside the community as Parsis. But then as Oorvazi’s grandfather says what separates us from other beings is that we can make choices and perhaps it is there that we go wrong. He is treated with ridicule.

Through the course of the film Oorvazi imagines key figures of Zoroastrianism: Kardir, Zurvan and Mazdak as real life persons giving the film a layer of magic realism. The cinematography and lighting create an ethereal atmosphere but all along it seems the director is trying to keep the narrative complex and abstract. As a result going with the stream of consciousness can lead you to a nap. The Parsi scriptures are not easy to translate and script writer Farrukh Dhondy has made little effort to make it accessible in English. There is no present all of us are our past. Our history passes through our blood. We are not granted life we are life, the writing ranges between nebulous and stilted making some of the sensitive scenes feel staged. A must for the Parsis but it doesn’t offer a hand to others to come along. The reformist might not like it!

The Path of Zarathustra

Genre: Magic Realism

Director: Oorvazi Irani

Cast: Oorvazi Irani, Tom Alter, Rushad Rana

Bottomline: Well meaning but fails to universalise the travails of Parsis.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 11:45:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/the-road-less-travelled/article7616104.ece

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