India, a land of rich heritage and ancient scriptures, has been a crucible of knowledge and wisdom for millennia. Among the many treasures that India holds, the Vaimanika Shastra stands out, enveloped in mystery and awe. This text, claimed to be penned down by Brahma Rushi Bharadwaja, delves into the concept of ancient Indian aerospace technology. And in recent times, the captivating movie "Prapaata" seeks to shed light on this intricate tapestry of legend, history, and scientific exploration.
The Enigma of Vaimanika Shastra
The Vaimanika Shastra, translated as the "Science of Aeronautics," details various designs and principles of flight in ancient India. From the construction of aircraft to the protocols for flying them, this text covers it all. The manuscript provides a vivid description of aircraft termed 'Vimanas,' vehicles designed for aerial combat, reconnaissance, and even passenger transport.
But like many ancient texts, the Vaimanika Shastra is enshrouded in skepticism and debates. Some argue that its content is a mere reflection of imaginative thinking, while others believe it provides evidence of advanced aerospace capabilities in ancient India. Regardless of where one stands, it's indisputable that this text has piqued interest and curiosity for ages.
"Prapaata": A Cinematic Revelation
Shri Suchendra Prasad’s feature film Prapata (2010) about spacecraft, was inspired by Vimana Shastra by sage Bharadwaja. Prasad made the film after in depth research. It is based on the story of Anekallu Subbaraya Shastry, who successfully flew an aircraft titled Marutshakti (Marutsakha).
My study of Brahma Rushi Bhardwaja's Vaimanika Shastra is deeply intertwined with an award winning Kannada movie, the Prapaata. As a child, I was driven by a self-motivated interest to explore this subject. In the nascent days of the internet, resources on this topic were sparse. However, after months of diligent research, I managed to compile the complete text of the Vaimanika Shastra and presented it to my revered Guru, Brahma Rushi K S Nityananda Swamiji, based in Chikmagalur. In a serendipitous twist, director Shri Suchendra Prasad approached my guru with the idea of creating a film on this very subject. My guru graciously handed over my report to the director during a sacred Yaaga ceremony, wishing him success. This fortuitous event initiated my association with the multi-faceted scholar, director, and actor, Shri Suchendra Prasad. From that moment to the present day, our intellectual rapport has flourished. We have deeply explored various subjects from ancient India and have practically implemented many of them through collaborative efforts.
The movie "Prapaata" serves as a bridge between the past and the present. It unravels the essence of the Vaimanika Shastra in a format palatable to contemporary audiences. Through breathtaking visuals, intricate storytelling, and an emphasis on authentic representation, "Prapaata" offers a deep dive into the world of ancient Indian aeronautics. But what truly stands out is the movie's approach. Instead of being swayed by extreme opinions, it embraces the gray areas. By integrating both believers and skeptics' views, the film ensures a balanced representation of the subject, leaving audiences with more questions than answers and igniting the spirit of inquiry.
From the very beginning of the film Abhay, the protagonist seems to be searching for something. It is only towards the end that we realize that he is searching for a needle. Director Suchendra Prasad presents this quest as an analogy to searching for a needle in a haystack, a symbolism often used for a meticulous and challenging search.
The acting prowess of all the cast members is commendable. Fresh faces in the film surprise and captivate the audience. Santosh, in the role of Narahari, is particularly spellbinding. We've seen his exceptional performances in many other films before. Other notable performances include Dattanna, Shivaramanna, Srinivas Prabhu, and K.S.L. Swami. Without discussing their roles further, I’ll leave that for the audience to enjoy!
Anekallu Subbaraaya Shaastri, portrayed by the talented Uday Kumar, and his son Vikram Uday Kumar, have given stellar performances. Their costumes and looks fit the part perfectly. Hats off to Shri Suchendra Prasad's meticulous direction. Such is the finesse in the storytelling.
This isn’t a typical commercial film. It doesn’t have songs, action sequences, or fiery dialogues. However, it does convey a deep sense of loss, making one ponder if the British truly took everything from us. The subtle humor is refreshing. There's one scene where Narahari is hypnotized by experts to revisit his past life, which will surely make you chuckle. This film is a must-watch for students, especially those engaged in research. If the film is playing in a theatre near you, do make it a family outing, especially with young kids. And if there’s a free screening, don’t miss it!
The film "Prapaata" has been showcased in hundreds of venues, including public spaces, cultural events, educational institutions, multinational corporations, and open-air settings, all without charge. It has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of individuals. The director retains the copyrights to the movie, with a broader future plan.
In conclusion, the director raises yet another question, without necessarily providing an answer. Did the airplane really land...?
© Hemanth Kumar G