Jesus of Nazareth: Lenten gift to 114 million Marathi speakers 

By: C. M. Paul – Matters India: Published on  10:24 pm, February 21, 2016

Mumbai — The film, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, by award-winning Italian director, Franco Zeffirelli, is dubbed into Marathi and is now available online for Lent 2016 in four parts depicting the agony, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It is accessible on the ‘TejPrasarini-Marathi’ YouTube channel in HD Digital Format under the title ‘Yesu Nazarethkar’ at:

Zeffirelli’s 1977 film is arguably the most authentic portrayal of the life of Christ because it was conceived and produced as a television mini-serial that spanned the various events of his birth,public ministry, suffering, death and resurrection as retold by the Gospels. The production team consisted of eminent researchers who spared no pains to preserve the historical authenticity of the narrative, both, in its textual and contextual form.

The film’s deep visual impact that combines a powerful storyline with the mystery of the person of Jesus is evidenced by the sterling performances of an all-star cast of famous American and European actors, including Academy Award winners: Anne Bancroft (Mary Magdalene), Ernest Borgnine (the Roman Centurion), Laurence Olivier (Nicodemus), Anthony Quinn (Caiaphas) ,Rod Steiger (Pontius Pilate).

The Marathi dubbing began in 1992 and was completed in the year 2000. The translator and executor of the painstaking project (even before digital technology invaded India) was Mr.Jayantkumar Tribhuvan (1942-2006 :,cntnt01,print,0&cntnt01articleid=11&cntnt01sho wtemplate=false&cntnt01returnid=52 ).

It was a labour of love for which he volunteered to work alongside his many routine assignments at his own pace and time, and in the company of his own students, some of whom are popular theatre artists on the Marathi cultural scene today. ‘Tribhuvan Sir’ or ‘Dada’ (older brother) as he was fondly called, was a Marathi poet, playwright, musician, educationist and winner of the President’s National Best Teacher award in 1996.

“This was a major project that began with the founding of Tej-Prasarini ( in Pune, which has finally seen the light of day almost 25 years after it was first conceived,” says initiator of the project and founder-director of Tej-Prasarini, Dr Peter Gonsalves, sdb. “Having it released freely on YouTube in this 10th death anniversary year of Dada’s passing is a way of thanking and ‘awarding’ him for his deep faith, his ecumenical spirit, his perseverance and dedication to making Christ more known, understood and loved through the media,” says Dr Gonsalves, currently Dean of the Faculty of Social Communications at Salesian University, Rome.

Joaquim Fernandes, sdb, present Director of Tej-Prasarini and South Asia Delegate for Don Bosco Communications, says “this is a marvelous accomplishment and now that it is online,many in Maharashtra and abroad will be impacted during this season of Lent. I hope people watch these wonderful videos and renew their lives.”

The video can also be accessed on the internet by typing ‘Tej Marathi’, or ‘Yesu Nazarethkar’ on Google Search. It is available to the public by courtesy of RAI-Italy, with the dubbing produced by Tej-Prasarini, Don Bosco Communications, Matunga, Mumbai.

There are some 114 million potential Marathi language speakers today.The storyline of Jesus of Nazareth is a kind of cinematic “Gospel harmony”, blending the narratives of all four New Testament accounts. It takes a fairly naturalistic approach, de-emphasising special effects when miracles are depicted and presenting Jesus as more or less evenly divine and human.

The familiar Christian episodes are presented chronologically: the betrothal, and later marriage,of Mary and Joseph; the Annunciation; the Visitation; the circumcision of John the Baptist; the Nativity of Jesus; the visit of the Magi; the circumcision of Jesus; the Census of Quirinius; the flight into Egypt and Slaughter of the Innocents; the Finding in the Temple; and the Baptism of Jesus.

Jesus public life starts with the woman caught in adultery; Jesus helping Peter catch the fish;the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32); a dialogue between Jesus and Barabbas (non-biblical); Matthew’s dinner party; the Sermon on the Mount; debating with Joseph of Arimathea; the curing of the blind man at the pool; the Raising of Lazarus (John 11:43); and the Feeding of the Five Thousand.

The final week of Jesus life starts with the Entry into Jerusalem; Jesus and the money changers;the Last Supper; the betrayal of Jesus by Judas; Peter denying Christ and repenting of it; the judgement of Jesus by Pilate (“Ecce Homo”); the Johannine Passion Narrative (John 18-19; including the Agony in the Garden); the Carrying of the Cross; and the Crucifixion of Christ(Laurence Olivier’s Nicodemus recites the “Suffering Servant” passage [Isaiah’ 53:3-5] as he looks helplessly on the crucified Messiah); the discovery of the empty tomb; and an appearanceof the Risen Christ to his Disciples.

The film’s storyline concludes with the non-Biblical character Zerah and his colleagues gazing despairingly into the empty tomb with Zerah’s laments: “Now it begins. It all begins”.

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