[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.]
Tonight on EPIX’s From, Father Khatri made a bold move, kidnapping Sara instead of turning her in, and then recognizing her as a vessel for some big messages. That startling realization speaks to him on multiple levels–as a man of faith, a man trapped in the town like everyone else, and a man with a history that might have some unwanted skeletons rattling around.
This week I spoke with Shaun Majumder about Father Khatri’s arc, and bringing the character to life as a priest who doesn’t have all the answers and becomes a counselor and friend to the townspeople.
When Majumder got the role, he sat down with series creator John Griffin to learn more about Khatri. “One of the most important things was having a conversation with John Griffin to really dig in. I [did] my own work and research and whatnot [as well but] it was great to sit with him and have long conversations about his perception of Khatri and how I can bring what I bring to it to fill him up,” he explains.
“He told me originally [that the character] was inspired by a police officer friend who experienced a traumatic event. He wanted to draw from that in terms of infusing that into Khatri’s character. And so I took that and kind of went with it in building my own backstory and the conflicts within Khatri’s character that he had to battle throughout–navigating being in this town, being in this world, and finding redemption. What does redemption mean, knowing that he has sinned in a way that is unspeakable to any person?”
“It just really gave me seeds that I could nurture and build upon. It was the engine inside of me that kept giving me power to fill up Khatri, and it was really, really helpful. I did not know anything about the story with Sara [beforehand], I just knew who Khatri was as a person, and to me, that’s what matters more. That feeds my relationship with Boyd, with Kenny, and the entire town, which helped me in my preparation for the role.”
“When I was first speaking with John about the religiosity of it all, what was important is that the humanity of it all is the first driver for Khatri. I think it should be because, from the viewer’s perspective, when you’re watching a man struggle with his faith, they are looking at themselves in many ways.”
“The use of a priest who’s conflicted and is not perfect, I think was really well chosen by the producers. By working with John and what I brought to it as well, it all came together nicely. It wasn’t just so simple as, ‘I am a priest, and this is God’s chosen plan.’ [Instead, Khatri can say out loud], ‘Are you kidding me? This plan sucks.'”
Majumder loved Khatri’s sermon scene, which sets up the reveal that he has Sara tied up downstairs. “The monologue in the top of episode six lays it all out and it was such a beautifully written piece. It speaks to every philosophy in the world. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, this idea that the search for answers within the chaos–that’s when you find your faith and faith in that context can mean many things,” he says.
“It’s the faith in God. It’s the faith in existence, the faith in humanity, the reason we’re here, what drives us, what’s our purpose. And so that sermon sets up so many of the questions that this show asks the viewer to ask themselves. Putting yourself in this scenario, how do you feel, or what would you do in this situation?”
“Khatri not only was just speaking to his flock, because you have to understand in that moment as the monologue is happening, we don’t know it yet, but the night before, the day before, it all came together for him. So he’s speaking to the fact that he has Sara in the basement.”
“He’s speaking to the fact that the revelation that Sara’s hearing these voices was such a bright light for him and an opportunity. This idea of Book 74 has come to fruition, and in super crisp clarity, he’s now able to say it out loud to Sara. But in the sermon, he’s speaking to his own personal journey and how he’s finally gotten to where he got to. And then we reveal what’s going on, that he’s able to go downstairs and now confront Sara.”
“For Khatri in that moment, it’s a convergence of his philosophy and his inner theorizing about what’s really at play here. And it’s the first time that he finds a connection that may [confirm] his theory coming together. Nathan informed him of these voices that Sara is hearing, and they are clearly something that Khatri doesn’t think are crazy voices.”
Khatri’s belief stems from more of his backstory, which will be revealed next week, and also with his actions that we’ve seen so far. “He believes in a higher power. He believes that God speaks to us [for reasons we learn next week]. So, for him, there’s a direct connection between his personal experience and his journey to Sara and what Sara is going through,” Majumder shares.
“And he’s deeply conflicted. He knows that this is something that in the immediate now has to be kept absolutely secret, which is why he takes these extreme measures to keep it covered up. If his theory is right, and Sara is connected to this place in ways that nobody can really explain, then he and she together can really work together to find a way out.”
“An ongoing theme in the show, as Sarah has been communicating, is, ‘Would you do something that is considered bad if it means that everybody can go home?’ He’s willing to take that risk in [kidnapping her] because he thinks this is going to lead to some answers. Now, little did he know that he was going to get the information from Sara about the bag, which he kind of literally and figuratively buried because of the trauma that’s associated with it, but that just took it to another level for him.”
“He’s been transcribing the Bible the entire time he’s been there, in that little back room in the church. These are things that are divine and things that are coming through him, and he is able to word-for-word cite the Bible at the same time. Sara’s hearing these voices and this concept around Book 74 makes sense.”
“There’s nothing off the table in terms of finding answers to the larger picture. This is a much larger mission for him. It’s his path to salvation because he’s been given this second chance after doing what he did in his moments before arriving here in the town.”
For our Canadian friends who can’t check out From yet (soon!), you can catch Majumder streaming now on CBC Gem in Season 2 of the mystery drama, Something Undone. “This is a really cool project with really cool people. In Season 1, it was just a voiceover. They wanted somebody who could use several Newfoundland dialects,” he explains.
“Season 1 is about this podcast producer trying to get details about the mystery of these unsolved murders that happen in a tiny town in Newfoundland. One of the clips that she’s listening to is the doctor, the coroner. And that’s my voice. And then in Season 2, we actually visually get to experience the interview in real life.”
“We experience the [story from the doctor’s] perspective while he is on the ground in Newfoundland doing the investigating. Then you meet me, the same voice that you heard in Season 1. And then there are all the other characters and incredible actors that are all in there [like] Shawn Doyle and Mary Walsh and and a few others. It looks beautiful and it seems like a lot of people are saying really good things about it.”
[Updated 09/26/22: From will be available in Canada on Paramount+ beginning 09/27/22.]
Photos courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
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