Set in Southern India during British Raj, Before The Rain, is story of a young man T.K. who finds himself torn between his ambitions for the future and his loyalty to the past when people in his village learn of an affair between his British boss Moores and local village girl Sanjani.
This fantastic movie won the Best Picture award at the World fest film festival and deservedly so. It’s a story of the retreat of colonialism in the 1930s, not an original topic but done with a great deal of power and depth to such extent that it stands out as being amongst the best of it’s genre.
There are two forces at work, the political conflict between the Independence movement and the pre existing colonial forces with all their influence, and the social forces that conspire against the two lead protagonists, a classic story of love across the boundaries. Plantation owner and Very British Person Henry Moores (Linus Roache) has fallen in love with one of his maids, Sajani (Nandita Das). As if the social problems of that weren’t enough, they are also both married which is a major complication. You can tell where this relationship is heading from the start.
A marvellous script needs great actors to make it sparkle and the cast is first rate without exception rising to the challenge of portraying both the drama and the tragedy of this doomed romance. And cleverly, though we know it is doomed from the start, we invest enough in the characters to hope against hope that they will eventually find a way to be together. Jennifer Ehle is particularly stunning as the wife who’s intuition leads her to the truth of her husband’s affair and as Sajani, Nandita Das brings to life a character who is in some ways naive but in others a tremendous source of strength. It’s also worth looking out for Rahul Bose as TK, Moore’s right hand man who is a fascinating character torn between duty to his friend and employer and the ties to his tribal past, eventually deciding to leave both behind and join the independence movement.
Santosh Sivan directs with the flair one has come to expect, making the entire picture a visual treat while never undermining the sterling work of the actors and Mark Killian provides his best score yet. With powerful themes explored with depth and subtlety and a lot more going on below the surface, this is one of those films that is rewarding all over again upon repeated viewing. All the departments come together seamlessly on this from the script right up to the editing. Overall a classic not just of it’s genre but of all time.