Varanasi – Into, Behind and Beyond

Varanasi, India: “Beyond” from Cale Glendening on Vimeo.

Varanasi always provokes a deep reaction for the tourists and travelers who visit. For some it is deeply spiritual with a special energy, for others it is filthy, maybe even ugly, as funeral pyres float past locals drinking, washing and living in the Ganges.

This documentary by filmmaker Cale Glendening captures a picture of Varanasi through the eyes of Sadhus – wandering aesthetics who have renounced worldly possessions. They choose to dedicate their lives to the liberation of the mind through seeing the world, and it’s physical manifestations as illusion. Cale follows Joey and Ryan as they work to finish their photo series ‘Holy Men’, portraits of ascetics influenced by different religions throughout the world. The film follows them as they form strong connections with Sadhus over the weeks of their stay, and strive to photograph them as they really are.

The film is a beautiful glimpse into a life very far removed from a western upbringing and mindset. It captures some of the wonderful idiosyncrasies of Indian culture that are still so prevalent today in the 21st century, when economic growth in India, as well as the acceptance of Capitalism and Materialism are charging forward. For example, a human skull lying on the ghats of the Ganges, without anyone paying it the slightest bit of attention.

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