In the fine traditions of non narrative films, I had anticipated that Rasa Yatra: A Pilgrimage into the heart of India would be a film that would take me on a journey. Maybe not so much a spiritual one, but I hoped it would leave me with a profound message. However after the 50 minute montage, I hadn’t quite had the moving experience I’d hoped for.
Rasa Yatra tells a tale of India and it’s Hindu culture. Literally translating as “Taste Journey” I was expecting to experience many shades of India’s culture. In that, the film succeeds. The early section focuses more of nature, cows, villages and mountains. As the piece moves on people becomes more integral alongside some more of the modern issues a developing world faces. There are some really powerful shots here, notably with waste and rubbish dumps, beggars and some traffic time lapse shots. There’s one part where the traffic is whizzing by in a time lapse but a random cow is just wandering around the roundabout – it’s a magnificent shot. It also borrows heavily from Baraka with people facing the camera for a few seconds and there is a lot of colour on display too.
However, where Rasa Yatra is let down, is in the bits between the shots. Audio visual films chew up footage so quickly and there’s parts left completely in silence like the music wasn’t edited in, shots where the camera appears to be blurry and other parts that feel a bit touristy instead of presenting messages to understand or ponder on. In that light, it either hits it, or completely misses it and feels uneven and part of that is down to the audio side. When audio is included, it works – but it feels like the two aren’t interconnected properly and so it makes the film jarring at times.
However, for its budget and what appears to a one man vision, Rasa Yatra is a fantastic accomplishment. There is clearly talent in director Param Tomanec and I’d love to see what he could do with a slightly bigger budget. That would help clean up the camera filters in darker parts, and maybe allow Param to deliver a more integrated and seamless experience. As it is, Rasa Yatra is a rough diamond.
The trailer is below: