BizAsia Movie Review: ‘Feast of Varanasi’

Raj Baddhan

Senior Editor


Independent films are always a wonder to watch. With filmmakers having the space to expand the boundaries of certain subjects a little more, there always seems to be a whole lot more to think about when telling such a story. Debut director Rajan Kumar Patel has taken the plunge in making such a film, focusing on the crime genre, the trailers don�۪t give away much of what the film is about, except that there is a murder and three girls have been killed. Writing the story, directing and producing it, has Patel made something that will make his audiences indulge in the film, or has he wasted his time, effort and money in trying too hard too soon?


CBI Arjun (Adil Hussain) is sent to Varanasi from Delhi to solve a mystery case, of a serial killer on a murderous rampage. At the same time, young English teacher Helen (Holly Gilbert) arrives in Varanasi to visit her aunt Agatha (Judi Bowker) with a letter from her mother who committed suicide. When Helen meets another school teacher Maya (Neha Mahajan) who teaches young children close to where her aunt lives, they both become friends. Varanasi is also Arjun�۪s home-town, where he also knowns Agatha and Maya. As Helen discovers the city of Varanasi she also comes across a strange man who goes by the name of Nana (Ashwath Bhatt). Through Nana, Helen is able to face up to her past, however there seems to be more to Nana than meets the eye.. Arjun on the other hand is attempting to solve a case that he soon realises reaches far further in the past than he thought. How do all of these characters connect? What role do they play in the serial killers crimes? What is the purpose of the killer�۪s actions?

It goes without saying that Patel has been very clever in the way he has told this story. Being his first film, he has managed to entice his audience completely, allowing them to be compelled to keep on watching with wide eyes. The way he introduces the relationships between each character slowly, ensuring that the film flows at a good pace is something Patel has managed to do in a very clever way. Being a film that includes crime scenes, Patel uses classic close up shots, however he does it in a way of making the audiences feel, as though they are discovering a new piece of the puzzle at the same time as the characters are. Patel has managed to make a very impressive film here, where his audiences have their eyes glued to the screen, and their minds constantly focusing on the characters and what they are all about to discover; which is exactly what a good film is all about.

Already established as an actor for his roles in mainstream films, it was extremely refreshing to see Hussein play such an intense character with such ease. Being one of the leads in the film, Hussein�۪s role as Arjun is rather complex. Fighting his way through his mission, Hussain has the ability to have his audience’s journey through the film with him; as though they are also solving the case and catch the murderer just as he is. Holly Gilbert is brilliant as Helen. Playing a character who finds herself discovering more than she bargained for, the viewers find themselves engrossed in Helen�۪s emotions. At first questioning her motives, they soon find out as she does, of ��how connecting to her spiritual side, not only helps her fight her demons, but form a relation in a very unusual way. Without being clear as to what her connection is with the plot, Gilbert manages to shine on screen and own her place there. Nana; the spiritual nomad, is wonderfully played by other mainstream actor Bhatt. Bhatt�۪s presence on screen is extremely effective. From the first scene where he just looks up past the camera, the viewers instantly feel a sense of unease. Though through this he is able to lure his viewers into the fascination and complexities of his character. Understandably a difficult character to depict, Bhatt�۪s performance is effortless and natural.

The only music aspect of the film is played in the background of different scenes. With the use of flutes, tablas and even bells. create the essence of expressing of Varanasi as a city. Patel also uses the music as a classic way of expressing the intensity of different scenes. Though simple, he does it in a way that adds emotion to what his audiences are witnessing, in a very powerful way.

Overall, ��Feast of Varanasi�۪ is a good watch. The audiences feel the emotions of each character, keeping their minds focused on what�۪s happening next. Patel has proved himself as an all rounded filmmaker. Though simple to follow however, at times as an audience it does feel as though the film drags on slightly, with scenes that could have been shown in a different way maybe. Though Patel depicts some intense scenes through the lense, at times this is lost and the use of shots of the city drag on. However this doesn�۪t steer away from how the audience find themselves looking out for any clues that could link to the murder case, which if spotted, can become predictable. Still, there�۪s no doubt in saying that Patel�۪s attempt in veering into all area�۪s filmmaking is a brilliant one, and he can safely say that it�۪s all paid off.

BizAsia Showbiz Rating: 3.5/5

‘Feast of Varanasi’ releases on 11th March.