BEFORE THE RAINS
In 1937 Southern India, an idealistic young Indian T. K. Neelan (Rahul Bose) and his British colonialist boss, Henry Moores (Linus Roache), share a dream of future riches as they survey a road they plan to build to expand their spice harvesting business. But T.K's respect for Henry is tempered when his suspicions that the married Henry is having an affair with his beautiful Indian housemaid Sajani (Nandita Das).
Review by Louise Keller:
The ingredients of this melodrama are more powerful than the sum of its parts. The film certainly looks beautiful as it captures the lush beauty of its mountainous, green Indian landscape, but acclaimed cinematographer turned director Santosh Sivan is only partially successful when it comes to the storytelling. The story explores forbidden love crossing boundaries of culture, but there is little passion in the translation, despite the metaphoric inference to British Colonialism in the late 30s. For me, it is Rahul Bose's potent performance as the Indian T.K. caught between two cultures that resonates with truth and that subsequently is the most affecting part of the film.
In the opening scenes when we meet Linus Roache's Henry Moores and Bose's T.K. enthusing about 'the road to the sky' they plan to build, we get an understanding for the bond of friendship between them. Theirs is more than a master servant relationship: Moores treats T.K. as his friend. It is the basis of this friendship on which the crux of the film hinges, as Moores' infidelity with his housemaid Sajani (Nandita Das) is revealed. When Sajani hides in the back of Moores' ute, they drive together to a sacred grove where lovemaking takes place by a secluded pond and waterfall. The encounter is more matter of fact than passionate and the claustrophobic longing for which I hoped, does not eventuate. We know two young boys see the lovers and assume they spill the beans, but we sense first hand Sajani's discomfort of her position when Moores' lovely wife Laura (Jennifer Ehle) returns from a trip to England with their young son Peter (Leopold Benedict). She would rather be the mistress than the servant.
I felt dissatisfied by the way the ill-fated love affair comes to its sticky end, despite excellent performances by the whole cast. In fact, it is this pivotal story strand that is the weakest link in an otherwise fascinating story about the changing culture and times of a colony on the brink of adulthood. The gorgeous scenery and stunning cinematography is a recommendation in itself, although the film's expectations, like the relationship between the two men, falls short.
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BEFORE THE RAINS (M)
CAST: Linus Roache, Rahul Bose, Nandita Das, Jennifer Ehle, Leopold Benedict
PRODUCER: Mark Burton, Paul Hardart, Tom Hardart, Doug Mankoff, Andrew Spaulding
DIRECTOR: Santosh Sivan
SCRIPT: Cathy Rabin
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Santosh Sivan
EDITOR: Steven Cohen, A. Sreekar Prasad
MUSIC: Mark Kilian
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sunil Babu
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: All States except Victoria: January 8, 2009; Victoria: March 19, 2009
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.