Varanasi by Silva Semerciyan

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Download Varanasi from Screen Test Audio Productions

Screen Test Productions, 2013
This disturbing little three-hander saw Dominic (Graham Pountney) and Mandy (Kate Harper) on a rowing-boat in the middle of the River Ganges.  The person in charge, Kali (Saurabh Jadhav) accidentally loses the oars overboard, dives in and swims away, promising to come back and rescue them.  Dominic and Mandy are left alone to ponder the wisdom of coming to India in the first place; they had come to fulfil the last wishes of their son Liam, who wanted them to visit the holy city of Varanasi.
Varanasi has strong echoes of E. M. Forster's A Passage to India, as it dramatizes the inbuilt racism shown by many westerners while experiencing cultures very different from their own.  The people are "dirty," the streets full of shit, the River itself is too polluted to swim in, even though many locals believe in its healing powers.  Dominic and Mandy are too much imprisoned by their own 'civilized' expectations, and hence cannot open themselves to new experiences and alternative cultural values.  Being abandoned on a rowing-boat in full view of the people living the river-banks offers them a salutary experience; just because they are westerners, they cannot assume that they will automatically be "rescued."  Perhaps there's no need to be "rescued" anyway; to be left in the middle of the river offers a chance to set aside one's expectations and try something new.  Whether Dominic and Mandy will understand this opportunity is anyone's guess.