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Indian film on reincarnation probes karma concept

Reuters, Dec 29, 2006

NEW DELHI, India -- A new Indian film examines the ancient philosophical concept of karma through the lives of eight characters who remember the sins of their past life and reconcile to the suffering in their new birth.

One of the characters in the film, "Meridian," is a pauper who remembers his past life as a king and its opulence but reconciles to the poverty and squalor of his present as punishment for sins committed in the previous birth.

"The film presents characters who cannot escape the cycle of karma," Irrfan Khan, a leading Bollywood actor known for playing unconventional roles, told Reuters.

"They understand within the course of the film that a person is bound to face the consequence of the action committed by him," said Khan, who acts as the king-turned-pauper.

As a philosophical concept that is central to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, karma is action, seen as bringing up on oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation.

"Meridian," which uses both English and Hindi language, seeks to portray the mental trauma of people who remember who they were and what they did in their previous birth, said Khan.

Although the concept of reincarnation has been scientifically debated in India, it finds many takers, especially in the countryside.

The theme of reincarnation has been the grist for many successful Bollywood films where the hero has often returned to avenge the injustices of his past life.

"Meridian" is being directed by London-based filmmaker Venod Mitra and most of the filming has been completed.

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