I don’t know what Ismail Merchant thought he had here. The film is supposed to be about a college professor who teaches Hindi, but has a passion for Urdu. He shares this passion with a local journal that publishes Urdu poetry. The editor of the journal suggests that he go and interview a famous and reclusive poet. Upon visiting the poet, he finds that the man is surrounded by “followers”, wives, and others that exploit him for his talents and money. The poet himself drinks and is usually depressed. The professor tries to get funds for a video camera for the interview and ends up with a tape recorder. With tape recorder in hand and a useless technician along to operate it, he goes to try and record some Urdu poetry for posterity. He never captures anything of use because either the poet is interrupted, inebriated, or starts quoting Keats.
The ending has the poet dying, leaving books of poetry to the professor, and the audience not feeling a thing. We were jazzed up to see the beautiful castle and all we were shown were ruins. I’m sure that’s the point. I couldn’t care, because I saw no beauty to contrast with the deterioration. Maybe that is a failing of me being an American with little appreciation for poetry, but it’s my opinion. I cannot recommend this film.