2008-07-18 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

MovieScope

'Before The Rains' - Emotional Monsoon
By Robert Snyder

It has been a while since a movie has shown an epic, yet emotional sweep that sucks the audience in like a whirlpool. "Titanic" and, of course, "Gone With the Wind" come to mind.

With the backdrop of the end of British colonialism in India (circa 1937), "Before the Rains" connects through its soap opera intimacy as a turbulent world swirls around its conflicted characters.

Maintaining the high standards of its releasing company, Merchant Ivory, Director/Cinematographer Santosh Sivan and screenwriter Cathy Rabin have fashioned a gorgeously filmed story of a handsome English spice farmer Henry Moores (Linus Roache), who is determined to carve a road through the jungle in Kerala to better transport his product before the monsoon season begins.

The key to his success is his loyal Western-educated Indian aide-decamp T.K. (Rahul Bose), instrumental in the road's design and supplying local workers at near-slave wages. However, there is a bump in the road. And, it's a big one.

Henry is having a roaring affair with his beautiful native housemaid, Sajani (Nandita Das), who happens to be married, as is Henry.

One night, Sajani, appears at the Moores ranch beaten and bleeding. Her no-nonsense husband, Rajat (Lal Paul), has discovered her indiscretion, though he is unaware of the identity of her sex partner. The situation is further complicated by the arrival of Henry's wife, Laura (Jennifer Ehle) and young son, Peter (Leopold Benedict).

The only solution is to get Sajani as far away as possible. To whom does Henry turn? His man, T.K.

The devoted servant does what he's told, but heartbroken Sajani returns. Faced with total rejection from her lover, she grabs a revolver and shoots herself - a revolver recently given T.K. as a gift from his boss and once spotted by Sajani's brother.

A massive hunt for now-hidden housemaid takes the laborers from time-is-crucial road project. Henry is lying like crazy, as T.K. is caught in the crossfire, his loyalties drawn between his British boss and his own people. Tragedy builds to a conclusion where personal and cultural worlds collide.

Don't miss "Before the Rains." See it before it washes away.

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