The film explores a city where the traditional and contemporary co-exist – how in 2006, Varanasi in eastern part of India is still home to ancient rituals on the one hand and a unique business on the other. The film will give an insight into the cogs and wheels that drive the business…how is this business model structured…is there a method in the madness?
The Burning Shores is a look at Varanasi through a contemporary prism – a dynamic hub where a complex system works with various spiritual and material service providers, all of whom constitute the Business of Death.
While previous films on Varanasi have stopped at packaging the mysticism and exotica of the city, The Burning Shores uses them as organic backdrops to examine the business that is driven by death.
Inherent to the death rituals and the business that thrives off it, are several principal players who run it. The community of Doms and their King that control every activity on the ghats, what package of services do they provide? The officials at the new electric crematorium – how do they view the Doms who in turn feel that they are undercutting them and threatening their very existence? Are the Doms as powerful as they once were or are the woodsellers ther new powerbrokers in the marketplace?
Hindus believe that anyone who dies in this holy city gets salvation or as it is known here, mukti. The film shares the lives and experiences of key characters that have come to this city to die.
The narrative is intercut between the world of the ghats and the other systems at work in the city of death. Essentially, the film uses the ghats as a central location and cut away to the other “worlds” – like the Ashrams, the NGOs etc. But will always return to the main place of action which is where the business is really centered.
Through the film we explore how the curious conflicts that have sprung up in this congested city may change the face of this business for ever.