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THE RITE, A PASSION

India, 2001 (MIFF 2003, Beyond Bollywood)

Director: K.N.T. Sastry

A subtle interplay between clashing ideologies: that of traditional religious values versus modern youth drawn towards extremism. Events overtake Subbaiah Sastry, a highly respected vedic and scholar in his prime now scraping out a meagre existence as a corpse carrier. He endures the contempt of his Hyderabad neighbours due to his acceptance of Tiladaanam, a lowly Brahammic rite involving the acceptance of the sins of the dead in exchange for coins and the food of the deceased. His son, Raghuram, has become a terrorist hunted by the police, at odds with his father. A stark contrast is provided between an outdated system and as yet undefined future.

Director K.N.T Sastry has had a long career as a film critic and writer. This is his first feature, which bagged the Indira Ghandi Award for Best First Feature in his homeland.

The rite of the title is both costly and essential in the eyes of the penniless Subbaiah. His new grandson was born under the influence of evil omens and unless an arcane ritual can be performed, both his son and grandson will die.

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