The land has been in the grip of a ravaging drought for ten years. In order to appease the Lord of Gods, Indra, custodian of rain, a grand fire sacrifice is being conducted at the palace under the guidance of the Chief Priest, Paravasu. As this sacrifice draws to its close, our story begins.
Paravasu is the elder son of the great sage Raibhya. For seven years he has watched over the holy fire, forsaking his wife, family and every earthly pleasure. Paravasu’s younger brother Arvasu is in love with a tribal girl, Nittilai. Arvasu prepares to marry outside his Brahmin caste. Paravasu’s cousin and bitter rival, Yavakri, has just returned triumphant after ten years of practicing austerities in the jungle, with the gift of universal knowledge from the gods. He is resentful of Paravasu’s position of Chief Priest, rekindling the existent rivalry between the two families.
To seek revenge, and assert his position and dominance in the Brahmin community, he seduces Paravasu’s abandoned wife Vishakha. Raibhya, Paravasu’s father, wreaks his own vengeance on Yavakri by unleashing upon him a demon – the Brahmarakshas. This sets off an irrevocable chain of events…
The film is adapted from the play, ‘The Fire and the Rain’ by one of India’s foremost playwrights, Girish Karnad. The story is derived from the myth of Yavakri, which is a part of the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata. The film was shot entirely on location at Hampi, a World Heritage site that is under the stewardship of the Archeological Survey of India. Though considerably altered by the playwright, the story incorporates the essence of the story as told to us in the Mahabharata. The production of the film has retained the period aspect without losing the immediacy of contemporary insights that are so much a part of the script.