Cast: Oorvazi Irani, Tom Alter, Rushad Rana, Shishir Sharma, Darius Shroff, Firdausi Jussawalla, Vivek Tandon
Director: Oorvazi Irani.
“The film reminds me of Alice In Wonderland,” I remember the director’s remark about her film in a candid chat, soon after the end title starts rolling. Now I truly understand why Oorvazi Irani relates her debut feature film to the classic fantasy. While Alice In Wonderland is a tale of a girl who falls through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world and encounters quirky characters. The Path Of Zarathustra narrates the story of a young Parsi woman — Oorvazi (played by Oorvazi Irani) , who embarks upon a spiritual quest after inheriting a mysterious book from her dying grandfather (Tom Alter) and encounters famed spiritual figures of Zoroastrians—Kardir (Vivek Tandon), Zurvan (Shishir Sharma), Mani (Firdausi Jussawalla), and Mazdak (Darius Shroff).
While the film essentially sits on the basic premise of religion and challenges the ancient decree that still dominates it, a subtle and beautiful love story between Oorvazi and Perseus (Rushad Rana) is neatly tucked in the screenplay, which makes Oorvazi’s journey in the film all the more interesting.
From the very first frame till the last, the film transports you into a mystical world, laced with religious beliefs juxtaposed with the harsh realities that the Parsi community faces today. However, that doesn’t really restrict it to just a Parsi audience. Philosophical and contemplative, the film is an inward journey for every individual with a very simple yet powerful message – ‘Keep the flame burning’. Yes keep it burning not just in the temples but in your hearts, within yourself, and then you shall truly see the light.
The film brilliantly oscillates between reality and mysticism, which lures the viewers in a trance and hence the makers have tagged it under the unique genre — Magic Realism, a genre, perhaps, never experimented in India before. With hints of Iranian new wave cinema, the film is also backed by powerful performances.
Tom Alter is brilliant as Oorvazi’s grandfather, delivering a long piece of dialogue in just one take. Oorvazi is impressive with her theatrical acting style. Rushad Rana is endearing as Perseus, Shishir Sharma as the professional mourner and clock-repairer — Zurvan doesn’t fail to impress. Darius Shroff as the intellectual Mazdak and Firdausi Jussawalla as Mani deliver their respective lines with flair. Vivek Tandon too leaves a mark as Kardir.
Director Oorvazi Irani, who is also a film educationalist and has earlier directed short films like The K File and Mamaiji, takes Farruk Dhondy’s powerful script, and brings together a wonderful mélange of theatrics and poetry on the screen, which is further elevated by the excellent cinematography of Subhadeep Dey and fine editing of Tushar Ghogale. The Path Of Zarasthustra is indeed a visual treat, which just can’t be missed.