Free speech, a fundamental human right? Yes, of course, you’d say. A universally granted human right? Absolutely not, even in the 21st century. Confronting 5,000 years of reading, writing, and the politics of censorship, Lekha’s Journey is a fictional interactive experience tied to the four-part documentary series, Empire of the Word, which aired in November-December 2009 on TVO, a publicly funded, educational media organization in Ontario, Canada.
In Lekha’s Journey, author I.P. Burroughs’ writings sparked international controversy and violent rioting that forced the mysterious writer into hiding 20 years ago. Aspiring Canadian writer Lekha Sharma forged an online friendship with the fugitive author, who is about to release a translation of the Bhava Sutra manuscript. The Bhava Sutra is believed to be a politically dangerous (anti-patriarchal) tract, written by a woman in Dehradun, India, in the 5th century BCE. The last people who tried to study the Bhava Sutra died or disappeared in unusual circumstances.
I.P. Burroughs convinced Lekha to meet her in Egypt, but the Bhava Sutra manuscript was stolen from the modern Library of Alexandria before the two could meet. Instead, I.P. Burroughs has laid a puzzle trail for Lekha, as she looks for missing pieces of the manuscript around the world. As she travels, Lekha is being followed, but she cannot allow the hidden message of the Bhava Sutra to be suppressed. Beautifully filmed on location in Canada, Egypt, Italy, Turkey, Germany, India, and England, Lehka is plucky and approachable as the protagonist, albeit a little naive. I.P. Burroughs’ supporters Lekha meets along her travels can be entertaining and sometimes cryptic as they help guide Lekha’s journey.