Agnivarsha: 'The Fire & the Rain'

A Tale from the Age of the Mahabharata

Agnivarsha - An Epic Tale of Love & Sacrifice. iDream Production

Watching Agnivarsha or 'The Fire and the Rain' (2002) is like reliving the age-old myth even as its multi-faceted characters, which transcend time, play out its inexorable end. Directed by Arjun Sajnani, the film is adapted from a drama by the noted Indian playwright Girish Karnad. Derived from 'The Myth of Yavakri' — a part of the renowned epic The Mahabharata, this film retains the essence of the original story that recounts the tale of two brothers while exploring the themes of power, love, lust, sacrifice, faith, duty, selfishness and jealousy.

On Location

Agnivarsha was shot entirely on location at Hampi, the seat of the Vijaynagar Empire in the 13th century, which is now a World Heritage Site, under the stewardship of the Archaeological Survey of India. The period has been accurately recreated in the film without losing its contemporary insights that are so intrinsic to the original script.

An Old Legend

Paravasu is the eldest son of the great sage Raibhya. For seven long years he has performed the mahayagya (fire sacrifice) to appease the gods and get rains for the drought-ridden land. He has forsaken his wife — Vishakha, his brother — Arvasu and all worldly pursuits. His exalted position of Chief Priest of the sacrifice creates discord and animosity within his own family, from his father Raibhya to his cousin Yavakri.

Yavakri, Paravasu's arch-rival, returns home triumphant after ten years of meditation, armed with the boon of eternal knowledge bestowed upon him by the Lord Indra himself. The resentful Yavakri embarks upon a scheme for ultimate revenge at any cost.

Paravasu's younger brother — Arvasu, is in love with a tribal girl — Nittilai, is all set to defy his upper caste Brahmin norms and marry her. But his Brahmin upbringing does not allow him to escape the manipulations of his brother Paravasu, his cousin Yavakri, and his father Raibhya. Unwittingly embroiled in their battle for supremacy, he is eventually forced to choose between love and duty.

In a desperate attempt to assert his position, his dominance in the Brahmin community, Yavakri seduces Vishakha — his past lover and now Paravasu's abandoned wife. Raibhya — Paravasu's father, wreaks his own vengeance on Yavakri by unleashing upon him a demon — the Brahmarakshas.

The appearance of Lord Indra at the end is testament to Arvasu's essential goodness and faith. His dialogue with the God leads him towards the path of duty and spiritual growth, through sacrifice. The purity of his love for Nittilai triumphs as the parched land is granted rain and its people salvation.

Beyond Bollywood

Agnivarsha is the first of a series of art films being released in North America by the Los Angeles-based company Cinebella with the theme "Beyond Bollywood," in order to popularize Indian art films in North America. The film opened in August 2002 at Loews State Theatre in Broadway, Manhattan, USA.

The Fire and the Rain (Agnivarsha) revolves around these seven mythical characters from the Mahabharata the longest epic in the history of world literature.

PARAVASU (Jackie Shroff)

The eldest son of the great sage Raibhya, Paravasu is a man driven by a sense of duty and is willing to sacrifice everything for his cause. As Chief Priest, for seven long years he has performed the Mahayagna to appease Lord Indra and bring rains to the drought ravaged land. In his endeavor to accomplish this mission, he forsakes his wife, family and every earthly pleasure.

VISHAKHA (Raveen Tandon)

She is the abandoned wife of Paravasu. Beautiful, strong, passionate and ruthless, Vishaka's deep sense of loneliness and bitterness drives her into the arms of her ex-lover and her husband's arch-rival — Yavakri.

ARVASU (Milind Soman)

The son of Raibhya and the younger brother of Paravasu, Aravasu is an innocent and trusting soul. In love with Nittilai, a tribal girl, he is all set to defy his upper caste Brahmin norms and marry her. Agnivarsha is his trial by fire and marks his journey to realization of the harsh and ugly realities of life where he has to choose between love and duty.

NITTILAI (Sonali Kulkarni)

A sweet and innocent tribal girl, Nittilai is fearless and stands up for what she believes, regardless of the consequences. Her unconditional love and devotion for Aravasu drives her to commit the ultimate sacrifice — that of her love and her life.

YAVAKRI (Nagarjuna)

After 10 years in exile, he is still consumed by his jealousy and resentment for his cousin and arch enemy, Paravasu. Blinded by his desire for revenge and his desperate attempt to assert his dominance in the Brahmin community, he seduces Vishaka, his erstwhile lover and the abandoned wife of Paravasu.

RAKSHASA (Prabhudeva)

A demon created by perversion of power and knowledge. Rakshasa is a chameleon, able to master and use every situation to his advantage. He is invoked by Raibhya, to wreak havoc and destroy Yavakri.

RAIBHYA (Mohan Agashe)

The great sage and doyen of the Brahmin community, he is the father of Paravasu and Aravasu. He is ambitious, cunning and revengeful. A cruel and ruthless man consumed with a deep sense of jealousy towards his own son.