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Death of a river foretold

We begin with the voice-over from a space-craft that’s coming back to Earth in 2035. It’s about the year Mel Brooks told us earthlings would be looking forward to the 5,000th sequel of Rocky.

entertainment Updated: May 21, 2012 14:49 IST

The agony of ganges
Shemaroo, Rs 299
Rating: **

We begin with the voice-over from a space-craft that’s coming back to Earth in 2035. It’s about the year Mel Brooks told us earthlings would be looking forward to the 5,000th sequel of Rocky. But sush, this is no funny movie; this is a deadpan docu produced, co-scripted and designed by Iqbal Malhotra. So what does the incoming shuttle see? A desert-dry Gangetic belt, all the way up from the delta. It zooms up to that favourite city of filmmakers, Benares, and stays there for a good half.

Then begins a series of bold assertions. We learn Hinduism was “brought” to India in about 5,000 BC by “Aryans”. The film, trying to focus on the causes and results of global warming, needn’t have waded into this hotly contested corner of history; but, well, it did. Some are minded less with the “bacterial purity” of Ganga water, tells narrator Roshan Seth, than with its “ritual and symbolic purity”. So we listen to, again and again, how a droplet of the putrid water is said to wash all sins. Chandramouli Upadhyay of Kashi Vishwanath Temple is joined by Veer Bhadra Mishra of Sankat Mochan Foundation, Swami Sunderanand of Gangotri and several other believers. On the side of reason are YP Abbey and Ranjan Bose of TERI, auto industry expert KK Gandhi, hydrologist Pratap Singh and, bafflingly, air-conditioner maker Carrier’s boss, Zubin Irani. Together, they try to convince us of our dire future.

There’s much truth in the content. But little of it can be seen through the muddied water in which the film keeps plodding.