Rajan Kumar Patel on ”˜Feast of Varanasi’

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Manju Mittal

”˜Feast of Varanasi’ directed by UK based director Rajan Kumar Patel will receive its world premiere at the 18th London Asian Film Festival on 5 March 2016. Just as the title of the film suggests, the thriller provides a visual feast of the great northern Indian city of Varanasi – the spiritual capitol of India situated on the banks of the River Ganges.

Feast of Varanasi is a compelling, tense drama, which will throw up some unexpected surprises for even the most avid of thriller fans. Actor Adil Hussain ( Life of Pie, The Reluctant Fundamentalist ) is in the lead role as a CBI Officer Arjun Das. Filmed entirely on location in the ancient city of Varanasi in northern India,  the feature film showcases a talented supporting cast that includes: Tannishtha Chatterjee ( Brick Lane, UnIndian ) as Inspector, Rajveer Saxsena,  Neha Mahajan ( Midnight’s Children ) as Maya and Prashant Prakash ( Zindgi Na Milegi Dobara ) as Kasi.

Feast of Varanasi was screened at Cannes International Film Festival last year and is a brilliantly made film. The audience responded to the film with a big applause. I have seen the film and I personally liked it. I met director of the film Rajan Kumar Patel after the screening at Cannes.

I did telephonic interview with a director Rajan Kumar Patel in London last week. He talks about his passion for films and his experience of making his film Feast of Varanasi.

How do you feel ”˜Feast of Varanasi’ premiering in London Asian Film Festival?

It is an incredible honour to be premiering the film in London and this is a great pride for all of us to bring this film to UK audience. Film is really suited to UK market. I hope the audience approves. It is a different kind of film. It is an intelligent thriller.

What motivated you to make ”˜Feast of Varanasi’?

The idea of the film came after I attended a funeral in London. As the Coffin passed through the veil and vanished, I was transported to the shores of the Ganges where I looked upon the dying flames of a funeral pyre and a lone priest watching over it. My thought turned deeper and I found myself wondering if this priest was as pure as he looked or whether there was mischief under his skin. I found myself my first character Nana, the reclusive priest.   I came home and shared the idea with my wife. I knew by her reaction that I had to write the story.

How was working with two British actors Judi Bowker and Holly Gilbert and what was the casting process for Feast of Varanasi?

Judy has obviously worked in films before. When I first approached her I knew she was the one. She is a gifted actress who’s easily embraceable.  Holly is a granddaughter of well known British film director, producer and screen writer Lewis Gilbert. I knew her background and casting her in the role was right choice as I wanted someone tough. She travelled to Varanasi from UK to shoot a film. It was quite  tough shooting in monsoon season in Banaras. She had a lot to prove. I was very fortunate to have the best cast and crew. It was a great experience working with Adil Hussain and Tannishtha Chatterjee. We have brilliant performances by the entire cast.

Rajan, as a first timer, you have not only directed the film but you have written the story as well, share your journey with us.

It’s been a great exciting journey. I am an architect. I always wanted to do a film. This is my first film. Film making has a charm of its own. I learnt to write script. I feel no human being can stay away from art and I believe we all have the ability to move on individually. I faced a lot of difficulties during the making of this film. It was a lot of research that went into giving the movie its authenticity. We visited the remote locations in Banaras and shot for 28 days in monsoon season. It was a huge learning experience for me.

The main character in your film ”˜Nana’ is your Protagonist. Tell us more about his character.

Main character of the film Ashwath Bhatt as ”˜Nana’, I knew casting him in the role of Nana would determine the success of the film. The mysterious and reclusive priest Nana, he isn’t doing funny magic he doesn’t have a white beard like a wizard, shaking a drum kind of thing that doesn’t work for me. I had to go with the audience inside the head of Nana. I don’t have to exaggerate what Nana’s character is. It is Nana’s character which helps transform the feature from a conventional psychological thriller into something transcendent, a film about life as much as death, light as much as darkness and the twilight where these all exist.

Feast of Varanasi will be released in UK on March 11, 2016, in India June or July and Australia, Canada and USA later in the year. My best wishes for Feast of Varanasi. I am sure it’ll do very well. Being his first film Rajan has proved himself as an independent filmmaker and this is an achievement by itself.









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