Nishant is a young Indian writer who has been living in Paris for many years. He returns to his homeland, partly to search for Jaya, the mystical woman he met in Paris, and partly to find his own soul and origins. He starts his journey at the source of the Ganges in the chilly and barren Himalayas and then continues down river. It is here that he meets Zehra, a poet and singer and furthermore a dancer and prostitute at a nearby brothel. Nishant liberates her from the brothel and they travel together down river. He has an affair with Zehra, though the woman from Paris is not forgotten. Their journey ends at the holy town of Varanasi (Benares), where true Hindis journey to die. The secular and westernized Nishant meets ''the real India'' during his journey: a country of crowds, permeated with religion and spirituality. His skeptical attitude gradually changes into an acceptance of India's, seen through western eyes, contradictory and confusing attitude to life. Jaya Ganga is a beautiful and poetic film and also very Indian. It differs from the vast majority of the country's enormous film production (three hour long epics, alternating fighting and song and dance numbers). Jaya Ganga is sensitive and thoughtful and we see an India where religion is completely integrated into people's lives. Director and scriptwriter Vijay Singh is, however, not totally unaffected by traditional Indian films. We are offered a little melodrama, a few over-romantic love scenes and a little song and dance. Nishant makes his own journey into the heart of darkness. He travels on a river to keep an appointment, but as with Marlow in Joseph Conrad's novel, he is also journeying to confront the depths of his own soul. But Nishant's journey may well continue after the end of the film. J S

Jaya Ganga
Vijay Singh
94 min
Asil Rais, Smriti Mishra, Paula Klein
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh, based on his novel “Jaya Ganga, In Search of the River Goddess”
Vanraj Bhatia

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