Jesus in Hindi

2012-12-13 L’Osservatore Romano

A unique "first": a film which re-elaborates an ancient subject, taking shape without forcing in that mechanism which is as clearly codified, as it versatile and multiform, which is Indian cinema.  The film in Hindi, with an Indian background in a broad sense, based on the life Jesus Christ, presented in the past few days at St. Arnold’s School, Lalaram Nagar, a small town in Indore (the western part of the federal state of Madhya Pradesh) before an audience of more than 2,600 spectators, including many figures from the world of culture and show-business, Shri Mahendra Hardia, Minister of Health of Madhya Pradesh, and Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal of Indore, a member of the Society of Divine Word, and Fr Geo George Kannanayil, director and set-designer of the film.

Although on this occasion a shorter version of only 53 minutes was screened, the original lasts 6 hours and 16 minutes, as in the best Indian cinematographical tradition, whose other substantial ingredients (grafted on to a 1,000 year-old cultural and theatrical root) are the scenes of song and dance. Here the 11 songs are confided to famous playback singers, those who “lend a voice to” actors in the many other musical parts: artists considered to be stars. Also, sound-mixers have an essential role in the film (here orchestrated by Ajit A George di Vismaya, of Max Studios of Trivandrum in Kerala).

The shots involved 11 States, including Kerala, Goa and Tamil Nadu, putting 200 actors in the show, many of whom appeared for the first time before the camera.  Among these were the Provincial and the Treasurer of the Verbites of Indore, men and women religious, scientists and professors, policemen and students, and above all, many sorts of people – who for the most part are non-Christians; Jesus is the young Hindu Ankit Sharma. As a group, the director presents them as a Christaayan family, having realized in the seven years of takes - among every kind of difficulty and consistent poverty - how much everyone loved Christ in their own way.