The Busan International Film Festival has announced that the film “Vara: A Blessing“ directed by Khyentse Norbu will open the festival on October 3rd.
Vara: A Blessing is the third feature film by Bhutanese lama and a filmmaker, Khyentse Norbu. Norbu wrote the screenplay based on a short story ‘Rakta Aar Kanna’ (translated as ‘Blood and Tears’) by Sunil Gangopadhyay, a distinguished Indian writer. It is also a global project that involved staff from USA, Hong Kong (China), Taiwan, India, and Britain. Through south India’s classical dance, Bharatanatyam, Vara: A Blessing tells a story of beautiful love, self-sacrifice, and a woman’s strength in adversity.
Vara: A Blessing
Director: Khyentse Norbu
Cast: Goswami Shahana, Ranjan Devesh, Raj Rohit
Cinematography: Bradford Young
Editor: William Chang Suk Ping
Production: Bhutan | 2013
Duration: 96 minutes
In rural India, a young woman Lila, who is learning Bharatanatyam dance from her Devadasi mother (a temple dancer wed to a Hindu god), falls in love with Shyam, a low-caste village boy hoping to be a sculptor. Shyam asks Lila to be his model for his goddess sculpture and their relationship deepens. Soon, Lila starts to imagine that Shyam is Lord Krishna for whom she has to dedicate her life. Their relationship is discovered by the village leader Subha and, for Shyam and her mother, Lila decides to sacrifice her happiness.
In Vara: A Blessing, Bharatanatyam is more than a mere dance. Shyam’s goddess is in the midst of the dance, and Lila fantasizes about meeting Lord Krishna while performing Bharatanatyam. Bharatanatyam is a dance that transcends class and is equal to everyone. Encompassing both beauty and nobility, Bharatanatyam is a dance that is special to Norbu. Lila’s choice, her decision to sacrifice herself for the happiness of others and not her own, is comparable to the way of a truth-seeker; her dance is a path to the truth. There has never been a more creative interpretation of dance.(BIFF Catalogue)
Khyentse Norbu was born in Bhutan in 1961 and was recognized at the age of 7 as the incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo(1820-1892), a great Buddhist saint who played a pivotal role in the revitalization and preservation of Buddhism in Tibet in the 19th century. After a brief encounter with film school, he worked with Bernardo Bertolucci on Little Buddha(1994) before directing Bhutan’s first ever feature film. His films include Cup(1999) and Travellers and agicians(2003). Vara: A Blessing is his third feature film.