My most ambitious attempt in this series. Hope you guys enjoy it-
Radha (Amisha Patel) gives her consent and she and Dr. Aditya (Akshay Kumar) get married in an elaborate ceremony in Varanasi, after which Aditya returns to the US, taking Radha along. They start living a charmed life together, until their marital bliss gets interrupted by an assignment that comes in Aditya’s hands.
Strange happenings are reported from the ancient town of Angkor (Cambodia) where a team of five US archaeologists had gone to study the ancient scriptures and learn more about the Khmer dynasty. At the outskirts of the town, they had made an extraordinary discovery. They had found a hidden passage to one of the outer chambers of the great temple Angkor Wat. The chamber consisted of a huge replica of the painting of Suryavarman II, the king who commissioned the construction of the temple, the original for which was a popular tourist attraction in the south gallery of the temple. The painting showed the king seated on an elaborate wooden dais whose legs and railings were carved to resemble naga snakes, and with him holding a small dead snake in his right hand. Beneath the painting were written a few words in Sanskrit that meant “The secret to success lies in the weakness of the enemy”.
The archeologists had decided to remove the painting from the chamber, believing it to be the key to many hidden facts about the ancient kingdom. They had taken the painting to their base camp on the outskirts of the city. The very night, there was a huge storm and a heavy downpour. It had seemed that the skies were angry, and were expressing their displeasure by thunder and lightning. Their base camp too had got struck by a bout of lightening that resulted in the death of one of their team members. Not only this, the next five days resulted in the death of two others in freak accidents. The remaining two Jim and Sunil had got a feeling that their removal of the painting had somehow triggered this mishap on them. Fearing for their lives, they had decided to restore the painting. The very next day, they took the painting to the chamber that they had discovered and restored the painting. But while getting out, Sunil had got struck on the head by something and had fallen unconscious. When Sunil regained consciousness, he discovered that Jim had gone, and so had the painting. Mightily shaken by the whole proceedings, he had wasted no time in reaching the city and taking a flight back to US.
After reaching US, Sunil gets a bit disillusioned and starts getting really bad dreams. He contacts Sidhharth (Shiney Ahuja), a good friend of his, who refers him to Aditya. Aditya hears him out but refuses to go forward with the case- sighting the fact of him being a psychiatrist and not a mystery solver. But on Sidhharth’s insistence, and Radha’s encouragement, Aditya decides to visit the Archaeological Institute of USA- Sunil’s employers. There he finds out the nitty-gritties of the mission gone wrong in Cambodia. But Sunil hides everything about them finding the painting and just tells him about the deaths of his colleagues in mysterious circumstances. Aditya decides to do some background research and spends a few days in library reading up the history of Cambodia and Angkor Wat in particular.
Soon Aditya and Radha travel to Cambodia, where they are accompanied by Sunil and two others from Archaeological Institute. Also, in Angkor, they are joined by a sexy female Historian Lisa, a localite, who is too hot and too smart for Radha to like. She gives a tour of Angkor Wat to Aditya, telling him about some really cool historical facts and myths, and also tells him a fable that is well known in the land of Cambodia, but which a few believe- or decide to believe…
Suryavarman II was a young and rebellious prince who was the great nephew of the then king Dharanindravarman. This was around 1110 AD. Suryavarman II wanted to be the king to the throne at which he had not legal king. But his great uncle was a really ineffectual leader, and quite aged too. Planning a usurping of the throne, Suryavarman got distracted when he fell in love with a traveler from the Chola Dynasty (Southern India) – Priyamani. Priyamani was the daughter of a learned noble in Kulothunga Chola’s court (the then Chola king). She had come to Cambodia on a state visit along with her brother Ajayratra, and with the intention of learning about the Khmer culture, and visiting the sacred Shiva temples in and around Angkor Wat. Dharanindravarman was a huge devotee of Shiva, and built royal temples for his beloved God. Suryavarman met Priyamani at one of these temples and they soon were involved in a passionate love affair, hidden from Ajayratra and Dharanindravarman. Priyamani got pregnant and Suryavarman decided to marry her. But when Ajayratra got to know of this, fuming in anger over the loss of face, he decided to kill his sister and the child in her womb. Before Ajayratra could execute his plans, Suryavarman escaped with his love and their unborn child for two years in the jungles. When he returned after two years, he told his uncle that he had been a fool and asked for his forgiveness. He also told him that both Priyamani and his son were dead. In reality Suryavarman had got in a treaty with an enemy of the state and to seal the pact had married his daughter- leaving Priyamani and their son- on their own in the forests. With the help of the enemy he battled his uncle after weakening his armies from inside like a termite, and killed him- taking over the Khmer throne.
Suryavarman then decided to build Angkor Wat, and in a departure from the norm, decided to make it Vishnu rather than Shiva the focus of the religious life. For this reason Angkow Wat faces the west- the cardinal direction in which Vishnu was associated. In fact, he hated Shiva, and anything to do with the God- perhaps in the memory of Priyamani and her devotion for the Snake God.
Now Priyamani and her Son vowed revenge, and entered the temple of Angkor Wat as Brahmins. The son Veeravardhan became well versed with the treasures of the temple complex and started small pilferages after gaining the trust of the most senior Brahmins of the temple complex. Legend has it that he accumulated a huge treasure and hid it in a secret chamber. The legend also has it that the chamber is guarded by a painting of Suryavarman- the replica of a famous representation of his in the temple complex. Soon after however Suryavarman got to know of Priyamani and his son being in the temple- and got them executed publicly. While Veeravardhan died like a warrior- Priyamani died with a secret desire in her heart- and hence her ghost returned to haunt the temple. Over the years she led to the destruction of the Khmer empire which went on a downward spiral- and finished completely hundred years later. What the legend also talks about is that Veeravardhan had left his son in the womb of the daughter of a temple priest- And that son and his subsequent generations guarded the treasure accumulated by Veeravardhan zealously- aided by the ghost of Priyamani- the guardian of her posterity. The legend says that even today, the treasure is being guarded by these people who owed their existence to a passionate love affair between Veeravardhan and a young lady.
Aditya hears this story and so does Sunil. He tells Aditya about their discovery- and that they had actually found the treasure chamber. Aditya wastes no time and enters the chamber along with a few armed personnel and Lisa- who refuses to be left behind. They reach the painting of Suryavarman and Aditya asks everyone not to touch it. He decides to explore the whole chamber before making a move.
Thus Aditya and Lisa start visiting the chamber every day, working painstakingly to find clues that could help them uncover the mystery. Every day they reach the painting, but don’t even touch it. And nothing really happens to them in the next two days. But on the third day, Aditya finds a few clues, a few footprints that he could not explain. The very next moment a few people come out of black shadows and attack them. Aditya manages to escape and keep them away. But Lisa gets lost in the dark of the temple…
Aditya, Radha, and Sunil visit the police station but the local police refuses to help them, and advices them to leave the country. They talk about Priyamani’s ghost and refuse to go inside the temple, fearing the Veeravardhan clan. Aditya understands that some murky plan is going on in the temple city, and the Police are involved in the same. He decides to take the things in his hands and makes some investigations in the nearby city. Hidden in the dark of the night, he spies on the areas around the entrance to the chamber. Using a magnetic compass and his significantly more effective sense of direction he makes a map of the entire region in his head. After three days of intensive mapping and spying, he finds another entrance- a secret tunnel- that by his calculations would lead to the same temple chamber.
He spies on that entrance- and soon enough he spots people emerging from the tunnel, with heavy boxes on their heads. He follows the trail, and finds them loading the boxes in trucks- that move towards the sea cliff- where the boxes are sent down to a waiting ship- that take them away God knows where-
Aditya fathoms that it is a smuggling ring that is been operated from within the temple premises- and the whole thing is being hidden around the temple fable of Veeravardhan- to keep the general public and the Police away. Aditya decides to go to Phnom Penh and take the help of the main city police force. They reach Angkor the very next day early in the morning and raid the chambers and catch the smugglers. They also find Jim who had been kept captive by the smugglers. But they find no trace of Lisa…
Aditya refuses to leave the city before finding Lisa. He explores the temple, and ultimately ends up again in front of the painting of Suryavarman. He reads the saying beneath the painting
“The secret to success lies in the weakness of the enemy”.
He looks at the dead snake in the hands of Suryavarman. The sign that he did not believe in the power of Shiva- the power which was everything for Priyamani. He decides to remove the painting and enters the den the smugglers were using. In a corner he spots a small Shiva temple. He goes over to it. The only Shiva temple in Angkor Wat. This was it- this was the weakness of the enemy- The weakness of Suryavarman to recognize the might of Shiva…
He explores the temple- and spots an inscription. It is a puzzle- one which if solved could lead to the greatest treasure of the world. Suddenly he hears the voice of Lisa…
“Come on Aditya, if someone deserves to know this secret- it is you- you got rid of the people who were defiling the sacred chambers of our forefathers- those wretched people who ended my clan- those who killed the last descendents of my son Veeravardhan…”
A secret entrance opens automatically as soon as the name is said by Aditya….
“Go inside Aditya, the greatest treasure of the world is yours”
“No. It belongs to this great land. It belongs to you. Your dynasty. I will let it remain here. Surely this will help your people when they are really in the need for it”
“You are a good man Aditya.”
“What I would like to do is to help you. Help you escape this mortal world. Help you escape its trappings. Help you move on…”
“Alas, that’s not possible Aditya. I brought terrible shame to my family back in India. I defiled the pride of my clan. Until and unless they don’t forgive me, I cannot be free”
“But they all are dead. Can’t anything be done?”
Aditya and Radha travel to a quaint little city in South India- Thanjavur- the city that was the capital of the Chola Dynasty at the time when Priyamani lived. They visit the ruins of a small Shiva temple and meet the priest there- an old man- whose ancestors went on till the times of the Chola dynasty. He asks him if he knew about Priyamani- who travelled far and wide to Khmer- some 900 years ago.
The priest is shocked to hear these words from Aditya. He tells him that he and his family were descendents of Ajayratra (Priyamani’s brother) – their secret had been passed on from generations to generations. Aditya tells him about the spirit of Priyamani been stuck in this mortal world- and seeking forgiveness from their family. He asks him to travel to Angkor- and makes all the arrangements for him-
As for him and Radha they return to USA- not before going to Varanasi and meeting Radha’s family and Siddharth- Every moment Aditya reflects on the vast maze (Bhool Bhulaiya) of Ancient tales and fables our ancient heritage is…