Before the Rains (2007) Poster

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Moving and poetic story of doomed love.
flicker100011 May 2008
This gentle yet dramatic story of an ill-fated love affair between a colonial Brit (Linus Roach) and his beautiful Indian servant (Nandita Dass) reminds me of films of another era, perhaps Michael Powell's masterful Black Narcissus, where the mystical allure of India is powerfully dramatized. This simple yet effective story of longing, love, and sensuality, corrupted by jealously and betrayal, equally offers the viewer a canvas of raw color, dripping textures, and curious mysteries concealed within light and shadow. Films don't look like this any more, it is vivid and alive, and often reminds me of David Lean or John Ford. If the modern film world is harsh and uncompromising, this film's world is subtle and timeless... like India. The cast is superb, and I love the quiet torment and emotions of Rahul Bose, the man-servant with big trouble on his hands, and difficult choices to be made. Go see it for a movie experience long absent at the multiplex. Don't wait for the DVD - you won't be disappointed!
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A must see film
ashoktrex20 May 2008
Stunning, superb film. Completely deserving of having won "Best Picture" at the Worldfest film festival. This romantic drama/tragedy, set in the Colonial India of the 1930's is compelling, and is even more poignant when put in context of the emerging Independence movement in India at that time. The powerful subtext is the end of Colonialism. The performances by the actors are outstanding - particularly Linus Roache (of Law and Order fame), Rahul Bose, Nandita Das and Jennifer Ehle.

Energizing the story are four magnificent performances. Linus Roache as the English planter Henry Moores is trapped by a slowly debilitating moral choice, and his gradual moral deterioration is a symbol for every good Englishman whose moral shortcomings were tested in the era of empire. Nandita Das's wonderful portrayal as Henry's mistress Sajani is remarkably sensitive and very poignant. She is head-strongly in love, yet naive as to the ramifications of her reckless love affair. Her natural empathy for her character turns a potential victim into an emblem of feminine struggle. Jennifer Ehle as Herny's wife is probably the scene stealer of the movie.

A marvelous performance is delivered by Rahul Bose, as the man caught in the middle - T.K. Neelam, the planter's trusted foreman and friend, who is caught in the middle as his two worlds collide. A Western educated man but with strong roots in his tribal village, TK has to choose whether is it right to betray a friend or one's own people? T.K. final choice forms the climax of the film when he forsakes both worlds for the Gandhian Independence movement.

Santosh Sivan demonstrates his genius behind the lens, with breathtaking Cinematography, and Mark Killian outdoes his score from the Oscar winning film - Tsotsi. A MUST SEE FILM.
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Stunning story and superb acting
jkbonner112 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I give this film a 10 that I hope will counteract the 7.7 rating at the IMDb. This film is a gem that is rarely seen today at the theaters. It takes place in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala in what appears to be the 1930s.

From its very beginning we understand that the British plantation owner, Henry Moores (played by Linus Roache) is having an affair with his beautiful Indian maid servant, Sajani (played by Nandita Das). Both are married. He to a beautiful English woman who at the start of the film is away in London with their son visiting her father; Sajani to a local villager. Given these personal circumstances and the times and place, a tradition-bound village and vocal demonstrations against the British Raj, we also understand as clearly as the sun traverses the midday sky that their fate is sealed. It is inevitable from the moment they first embraced each other. But rather than experiencing ennui from this foreknowledge, it heightens our involvement as we are drawn into the characters and the drama of their lives. I must also point out the splendid acting of Jennifer Ehle, who plays Moores's wife after she returns with their son to their plantation home. Ehle captures perfectly the duped wife whose female intuitions lead her to the dark truth of her husband.

On a larger scope, this film can be seen in a more complex light as well. Moores symbolizes the hubris and individualism of Western man hell-bent on bending the world to his will through his know-how and his technology. He has seduced Sajani, who perceives him as a liberator, freeing her from her brutal, tradition-bound husband whom she was forced to marry. Moores's know-how is manifested in the film by the building of a road impregnable to the monsoon rains, and his technology symbolized by his pistol, which Moores bestows on his Indian steward, T.K., for T.K.'s complicity in Moores's affair with Sajani. T.K. is played with summit precision and perfection by Rahul Bose, who vacillates between the ancient traditions and codes of his village and the new ways of his boss, Moores, whom T.K. also sees as a liberator from the ancient village traditions. In the end it is T.K. who holds power over Moores.

This individualism had pervaded Western culture for five hundred years and along with the Western scientific/technological dynamo generating a new world is its most pervasive and recognizable hallmark. It has enabled Western man to shuck off the accumulation of thousands of years of cultural accretions and to construct a different world from one bound by traditions and customs. I say here "a different world", not necessarily "a better world". For technology is a double-edged sword. As it liberates us, it also erases our links with the past. And once bereft of the past, humans are left rudderless in the great stream of time.

It is still a very moot point whether the individualism of the modern world will ultimately lead to the Great Debacle. Whether this conclusion to the story of humanity will be as implacable as the fate of Sajani and Moores remains to be seen, but many disturbing events in the world suggest that it may happen. If it does, then humanity will again be flung back to its tribes and its villages, and the heights scaled by its vaunting technology will evoke only vague and distant memories in those tribes-people and in those villagers.
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Visual feast
AvinashPatalay8 June 2009
When DOP holds the directorial reigns one can expect a visual feast nothing short of excellence. And precisely that what you are in for "Before the Rains". Every scene seems to hand-picked and aesthetically delivered. Brillaince perhaps would be an understatement for the visual poetry.

The plot weaves a story of love, passion, friendship, loyalty and greed amidst the struggle for freedom from the British Raj neatly showcasing the customs and traditions of Gods own country, Kerala.

Santosh Sivan gets down to business straight away and while the visuals keeps the audience glued, the same cannot be said about the plot/ narrative which seems to give away. Perhaps screenplay needed further cementing.


Ψ Rahul Bose:: Needs no intro, he is might in his own right. Manages to pull off the various layers of the role effectively. His character seems to be inspired from Karna in Mahabharata.

Ψ Nandita Das:: Her role was smaller than expected and needed more screen time to establish the character.

Ψ Linus:: He was good, though has immense scope to make a dent.

Ψ Jennifer:: Now literally stealing the thunder would be the apt idiom to compliment her performance and her character backs it up nicely.

Ψ The other stalwarts from Malayalam cinema were confined to character roles and perhaps minuscule.
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It is all about the conscience
shashikrishna6 September 2009
IT WAS DURING MY SEARCH for other works by Nandita Das that I came across 'Before the rains'. Ordinarily I probably would have given it a go-by but considering it had Rahul Bose in it too and was directed by the talented Santosh Sivan, it seemed worth giving a chance. In the first few frames itself the movie had me wrapped. The breathtaking locales of an enchantingly wooded Kerala make for a perfect backdrop to this tale of epic proportions. When Sivan's roving eye breezes past serene looking tea plantations and gorgeous gorge's carved out of nature's immaculate knife, one can easily see why he is considered one of the finest cinematographers in the country. Add to this the mix of warm locals buzzing around making small talk in Malayalam while keeping the prim houses of the English sahibs clean and you have an interesting concoction of stories ready to spill over.

'Before the rains' starts off by exposing us to the core plot right away. That of the illicit affair between British spice baron Henry Moores (Linus Roache) and his housekeeper Sajani (Nandita). They nuzzle into each other's arms under the very roof that feeds her while collecting fresh honey from friendly beehives in the woods. Their seemingly hush-hush cozy little venture, though, has a silent confidant – T.K. Neelan (Bose), a handyman who works with the Englishman. He shares Henry's vision of cutting through the mountains to make that much awaited road that will transform the tea plantation into a full blown spice manufacturing unit rich with cardamom and pepper. Of course, this has to happen before the monsoon rains so that the road can sustain it. TK does not completely condone what Henry and Sajani share but he understands what love is. Given his adherence of friendship and loyalty to Henry he doesn't find it relevant to keep this a secret from Sajani's husband Rajat and her brother Manas. People he grew up with playing in the very forest that Sajani now spends her awake time enjoying Henry's indulgent kisses and hugs.

Rajat is a tough guy who has no patience for Sajani's lies and deceit. Despite the lack of any concrete evidence against her, he knows something is amiss and suspects TK of being the guilty one. With things looking like this in walks Henry's wife and son one day. Much to Sajani's disappointment and frustration, her way out of her abusive husband's life seems to be by bridging the cultural divide that separates her and Henry. Things don't necessarily pan out this way when Sajani is beaten senseless one night and is forced to escape from her husband's heavy handed clutches. She runs to Henry's house (where TK also lives in an outhouse) and confesses her need to never have to face her husband again. Henry panics. This is a situation that he had not expected given the highest level of secrecy (and possible bottom line triviality) he had given the case thus far. It is then, on being rejected from Henry at such an important juncture, that Sajani, using TK's gun, shoots herself dead right in front of their bewildered eyes.

'Before the rains' picks up momentum after this incident. The question of what is the right thing to do and who, more importantly, will do this becomes the focus. Will TK be the scapegoat for a murder that was inspired by Henry's lack of character? Or will TK go out of his way to tell everyone that it was Henry who was the cause of Sajani's untimely demise? What will be his true calling at such an hour – his ethics or his loyalty? Will Henry own up to his mistake and risk his spice project, and needless to mention his family's respect, altogether? Will the gora sahib pull his strings to come off unscathed in a time when it is so easy to do so? These are questions that the movie addresses as the frames pass by.

Sivan's understanding of local sensitivity in a place like Kerala (pre- Independence) is obvious in every frame. Right from the attire the people wear to the 'Bharat Chodo' slogans that ring out across the quiet town in tropical Kerala is straight out of history's dusty pages. His bold showcasing of the flawed English colonialism sits bare as the one tragic incident stands to threaten an entire community. The subtle yet prominent mention of the price passion has to pay despite the odds being against a culturally diverse couple is very well showcased.

Performances belong to almost everyone in the movie. Right from Bose, who plays the silent yet defiant Malayali foreman of the English sahib to Das, who plays the victimized and misdirected mistress whose fate eventually does her in. Each character in the movie does justice to a plot that, despite its simplistic way of handling the most complicated of situations, exposes the shocking hues with which the Raj worked in colonial India. At a time when most of the movies coming out of India lack that much needed strand of human emotion, 'Before the rains' stands out like a breathe of fresh air that underlines only one basic human emotion – conscience.
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Fighting loneliness in 1937. A Rough Road!
vitaleralphlouis30 October 2008
Before the Rains is a beautifully made drama set in south India in 1937. An engrossing story, it shows us what India was like and awakens our interest in foreign lands. But what stuck in MY mind was the extreme difficulty of having a sexual/romantic encounter in this time and place.

Young people these days take their sex fast and casual. There is no way they can ever understand the restraints of the pre-1960 era (let alone 1937). And this was the case in India, or in the USA. With most women married well before their 18th birthday, with marriage being respected by society, with the remaining single people mostly being (obvious) born losers, non or extra marital sex was virtually impossible, and could lead to the serious and multi-complicated downfalls portrayed in this movie. Easy to say had the lovers handled things wiser or smarter their ultimate problems might have been easier. But wait, they DID handle their situation wisely......
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social commentary ultimately wins out over melodrama
Buddy-5111 January 2012
A mixture of social commentary and period-piece melodrama, "Before the Rains," directed by Santosh Sivan, takes place in India in 1937 during the waning days of British rule.

Henry Moores (Linus Roache) is an English businessman living with his wife (Jennifer Ehle, the ghost-wife from "A Gifted Man") and young son (Leo Benedict) in the Madras district of colonial India, where he is supervising the construction of a road that must be completed before the monsoonal rains begin to fall. Moores is also having a clandestine affair with a beautiful Indian housekeeper named Sajani (Nandita Das), who is herself married to an unloving and abusive husband from the village. Through a series of tragic circumstances, the affair manages to have lasting repercussions not only for Moores and his family but for Anglo-Indian relations in the area as well.

The story by Cathy Rabin serves as a microcosm for what was occurring on a national scale at that time, as the oppressed natives were just beginning to assert their right to oust the British and become the leaders of their own nation. Thus, Moores' dilemma becomes much more than just a personal one of love and marital infidelity due to the extraordinary circumstances taking place around him. For not only is Henry breaking his own marriage vows with the affair; he is violating any number of social taboos involving race and class structure as well. The situation becomes even more complicated when another of his servants, T.K. Neelan (Rahul Boss), becomes a pawn in Moores' game to extricate himself from the consequences of his actions, and T.K. is finally forced to choose between his desire to be a part of a growing future promised by the Brits and his innate loyalty to his own people who serve under them. The triumph of the screenplay is that each of these characters emerges as a well-meaning but often flawed individual caught in a world greater than his or her own private passions.

Even though there are times when the gravity of the social issues feels a bit diminished by the contrivance of the plotting – as if the melodrama were not commensurate in importance and value with the seriousness of the subject matter - on the whole, this is a well-acted, thoughtful and gripping drama that makes important points about colonialism, class structure, personal morality and the untamable nature of the human heart.
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Rains and Dust
HeadleyLamarr18 May 2008
I had to hunt down where this film was playing - it was 70 miles away and I took a road trip to go catch it. The reviews have been so good, it is made by Sivan, has Nandita Das AND Rahul Bose so it seemed well worth the effort. Unfortunately I feel really let down by the film. It seems specifically made to cater to a Western audience and is less Indian than Darjeeling Limited! Sivan tells an engaging enough tale that the 90+ minutes do not hang heavy on your hands but the characters are not well etched at all. I went in expecting an Indian Ink (Stoppard) or a Passage to India (EM Forster), at the very least I was hoping for a Heat and Dust, but this is lower than that Ruth Praver Jhabvala fare.

Nandita Das plays Sajani, a woman who works as maidservant to the Moores family headed by Linus Roache as Henry Moores. While the wife (Jennifer Ehle) and son are away, Henry gets into an adulterous love affair with Sajani. With the help of TK, a local village man who is English educated, Henry is trying to build a road to improve the spice trade. Sajani is married to a brutish fellow, he does find out and all hell breaks loose. There is the obligatory tragic ending but you watch it from the outside with clinical detachment. The white man is a spineless fellow, the white woman a large hearted up-standing woman (like the white women in Lagaan, RDB).

Nandita Das has a meaningless role that she cannot sink her teeth into, Rahul Bose is equally wasted in the role of a man who is neither fish nor fowl, but caught between two cultures. So much could have been made of this character. Linus Roach plays the gutless white man exceedingly well, you hate him and yet you also know where he is coming from. Jennifer Ehle is wonderful in a small role as the woman full of empathy.

What Sivan does best is showcase the canvas, the photography is absolutely stunning. The locales are full of magic and every shimmering dew drop, the frog jumping into the pond, the mist rising from the tree tops, is all magically captured by his lens. Where he loses out is in etching the characters better, and having more to the story itself. This is a thin tale. He also fails at extracting the best from his stellar cast. Western audiences will love this tale of "forbidden love" - parts of it more graphically shown than we are used to seeing, the spineless British man, the Indian man learning the gentleman's game from the gentleman Henry, and in fact out-gentlemaning Henry in the end. I am sure they will also find most interesting some of the bizarre and arcane rituals that the "tribals' were practicing! I am disappointed because this one could have been so much more.
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Before Anticipating The Rain
Chrysanthepop29 July 2010
Santosh Sivan has already made a name for himself as an established cinematographer. With 'The Terrorist' he proved to be a competent director. Now comes another sensational directorial ventures, 'Before the Rains'. Visually, it's a feast for the eyes. Sivan's way of capturing the beauty and atmosphere of the natural rainforest setting as he stresses on the details to each and every one of his shots is simply amazing.

The intriguing premise of the story is derived of a novel concept. Sivan sensibly tackles themes such as love, class distinction, despair, guilt and betrayal and layers them well within the story and characters. He never goes over the top as he wonderfully manages to keep a low tone. Just when one would think the story would turn towards a predictable path, Sivan throws a surprising turn while staying true to the film. He extracts some incredible performances from his principle cast that includes Linus Roache, Rahul Bose, Nandita Das and Jennifer Ehle.

Overall, Santosh Sivan has improved as a director and continues to be a superb cinematographer. It's definitely a much better movie than 'Asoka'. I would like to see this director make more such films rather than opt for the usual loud Bollywood masala like 'Asoka'.
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Dull and Derivative
Waerdnotte1 August 2008
This movie fails to offer anything new to a genre that has traditionally shown the cross cultural love story underpinned by the politics mid 20th century / pre-WWII India, where the British and their modern ways are bad and the primitive but honest and true Indians are good. Surely such clichéd depictions of the British are rather passé now.

Apart from the drama that fuels the second part of the movie the narrative is predictable, the acting is pedestrian and two-dimensional, and the directing obvious and unimaginative.

The story really needed to be fleshed out and would certainly have benefited from another half an hour of screen time to give the characters and narrative more depth and give the viewer something to feel some investment in.

All in all, rather uninspiring. Oh and Linus Roache just cannot do tragedy - going cross-eyed with emotional pain just doesn't work for me!
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Cinematographically stunning, acting superb, story line could have been more
rshyleshnair19 July 2008
Being a native of Kerala and not knowing much of this movie, I went because my favorite Indian actors Nandita Das and Rahul Bose were in it. My hubby and I were in for a stunningly visual treat of our home state in India and were jumping for joy. Every frame was pure, with shadows and light and filters that just transported you and wanting to see more. I would liked the movie more if it had been stretched a little longer and see more deeper delving into the characters and the village life. Instead a limited dimension was presented. I was a little disappointed and left feeling like something wasn't complete in the application of the story. While the film focuses around the central characters,not enough time was spent on how the setup started but the movie picks-up almost mid-stream it felt like and therefore a little incomplete. There were seeming contradictions in the movie. exploration of each of the characters could have been done more deeply. I was sorry to see that Nandita Das was relegated to such a minimal role. Rahul Bose whose phenomenal acting could have been explored profoundly was also limited to more of a silent portrayal while his eyes spoke volumes. I wasn't sure where his loyalties were or whether he was really trying to live in two worlds and ultimately what is it that he stood to gain in the way of empowerment. The storyline is simple and did a good job around Roach's role and his moral conflicts. The actress who portrayed his wife as brief as it was very good and believable. The supporting actors all acted well (kudos to Indrajit and Lal and Mr.Thilakan as well-it was awesome to see these phenomenal actors on the big screen through such an artistic lens. It was a little discomforting to see the far from the truth portrayal of the tribal ritual. My huge kudos to Mr. Sivan- the quality of the cinematography is pristine and flawless and timeless. I hope you'll blaze forward with more courage at exploring in-depth portrayals of Kerala even more.
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Trouble in the family. Pretty scenery outdoors.
Chris Knipp17 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Somerset Maugham was a master of colonial adultery. His short stories are full of it, men and women in this or that corner of the British Empire getting themselves into devastating marital fixes. In 'Before the Rains,' the Indian cinematographer and director Santosh Sivan muddles his tropical tragedy of adultery as Maugham would never have done.

Henry Moores (Linus Roache) is a planter in the Kerala province of India where a fresh revolt against the British Raj is just brewing; it's 1937. He is having an affair with his beautiful native housekeeper while his wife and young son are away on an extended stay in England. On an idyll gathering honey in a sacred grove Moores and his housekeeper are spotted by two little boys while making love (though, lucky for him, they don't recognize Moores). Shortly thereafter Moores' wife and son return to India and trouble ensues that disturbs the house and the planter's ambitious project to build a freight road up over the hills. He was meaning to expand from tea into spices--generously promising to share the resulting profits with his local assistant, T.K. (Rahul Bose). T.K. is a childhood friend of Sajani, the housekeeper (Nandita Das) and lives on the premises, having in his possession a pistol Moores has just given him as a reward for his help and loyalty. Three guesses what that's going to lead to.

In Maugham's stories the equations are simple and relentless. So are they here, but the power and focus of the story are undermined by the way not just one but all three of the main characters try to dodge the inevitable while the lovely lens of Sivan dwells overlong on the scenery indoors and out. Sajani is understandably unable to accept that she's dispensable. Moores, who is either spineless or a fantasist, tries to pretend nothing is amiss. T.K., who has one foot uneasily planted in each of two opposing worlds, thinks he can protect his Sahib and still not become an outcast in the village. But the village is a place to whose laws T.K. remains subject and in which Sajani still lives with an angry husband. The latter is already suspicious of her even before the boys tell their story and is permitted by the local code to beat her, just because he cares.

Maugham would have brought things to their highest pitch in the awful moments when Moores's wife Laura (the usually excellent Jennifer Ehle, rather wasted here) looks for cheer or affection or even just ease from her husband and he cannot oblige. But Sivan hasn't enough time to draw the full value from that. He's busy with too many other things--the trap Sajani gets into; T.K.'s dilemma; the impending revolt; delays that may keep the road project from its necessary completion before the monsoon. There's much about the village system of justice, including a novel test of a defendant's truthfulness. There's even the repeated worry that Moores will lose the loan he took out for the road project. Maugham would wisely have paid a lot less attention to anything peripheral to the psychological and moral drama. The trouble is that Sivan's a bit like T.K.: he wants to work on both sides of the stream, shine his light on the colonials with their linens and khaki and bathtubs (and, like in Ang Lee's overwrought 'Lust Caution,' on their shiny period motor cars)--and also look into the village culture and the bonds of Indian family life. Besides which, he can't stop training his lens on the pretty surroundings, even though at this point they're certainly not a concern of the principals and shouldn't be ours.

Everybody plays their role, nothing more: psychological subtlety is lacking. Sajani is beautiful and passionate and disappointed. Moores pleases everyone and no one. T.K. is sweaty and loyal. Moores' wife is confused, her final realization of everything coming in an instant with buggy eyes--no time for the slow burn. Though T.K. is pivotal, he isn't really interesting. We don't get to look into his mental confusion. This is no 'Passage to India', and subtle insights into racism and the breakdown of communication between cultures aren't forthcoming. As so easily happens when too many balls are being juggled, the pacing suffers and events just gradually lumber along. There's not much danger of giving away the ending because it's a muddle.

The choice of a specific point of view would have sharpened and intensified everything. In the absence of that, the main characters lack complexity. Moores as played by Roache is almost a blank, hard to care about one way or the other. If only he were either a true romantic, or an obvious cad, but no such luck. If only T.K. had doubts, or were more foolish or overeager. Of course we care about poor Sajani, but this is most clearly not from her point of view: once she's in trouble, she is mostly off-screen. Ironically Moores' young son Peter (Leopold Benedict), though he hasn't many lines, seems as interesting as the others because he at least has an arresting face.

We thought Merchant Ivory was a dead operation since Merchant himself literally passed away in 2005, but this is attributed to Merchant Ivory. It has the Merchant Ivory gloss but not the Merchant Ivory glow; in fact Ivory had nothing to do with the production. The director's earlier 'The Terrorist' was a vividly claustrophobic little story; interestingly, it was entirely and intensely from the protagonist's point of view, the thing that is so lacking here. Sivan has drifted, unfortunately, into a more conventional, diffuse mode.
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Watch a different movie ...Before the Rains
doctorsmoothlove17 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
OK, let me again admit that I haven't seen any other Merchant Ivory (the distributor) films. Nor have I seen more celebrated works by the director, so my capacity to discuss Before the Rains outside of analysis of the film itself is mitigated. With that admittance, let me begin.

Before the Rains is a different kind of movie that doesn't know which genre it wants to be. At first, it pretends to be a romance. In most romances, the protagonist falls in love with a supporting character, is separated from the supporting character, and is (sometimes) united with his or her partner. This movie's hero has already won the heart of his lover but cannot be with her. His name is Henry Moores and her name is Sajani, and they reside in southern India during the waning days of the Raj (British imperial rule). Henry has been away from London for a long time and has fallen in love with his married Indian maid, despite his legal marriage and child overseas. What could be better than that? They often sneak away for intimate afternoons until some children notice them. Word spreads to Sajani's husband who questions her involvement with Moores. She denies any contact with him, but Moores asks her to leave the area. Sajani refuses because of her devotion to him and commits suicide. Please take note that these events occur in the opening third of the film. The film changes tone and becomes a crime-drama in its final portions.

Sajani's body is discovered right as Moores' family comes to visit. The alleged perpetrator is Moores's English-educated assistant T.K. T.K. knows of his master's affair but keeps silent until his life becomes threatened. Once he is declared innocent, he attempts to regain his honor by killing Moores. T.K. is too squeamish and leaves him in a dirt path as the rains fall.

I want to warn you, this isn't a romance film. The DVD cover and theatrical posters show an Indian woman and Caucasian man embracing in an idealized tropic setting. This image is captured directly from the film's opening, but quickly disappears. Then it's over. It seems like an effort to capitalize on Western fixation on forbidden love. It isn't effective, at all. Not only is the movie not a romance, but its characters lack any personality. They are bundles of walking clichés. Moores is an arrogant white man who doesn't recognize his Indian friend, T.K.'s intelligence. T.K. is torn between his own heritage and his educative background. Sajani is a woman incapable of having a choice in her romantic life. Oh, and, of course, Moores' family is inquisitive into Sajani's death but still slightly racist to Indians. If the tone wasn't so serious, I would be willing to overlook these problems, but it isn't. The film is presented with a didactic overtone which highlights its poor character development.

No, this film isn't terrible. Other than the laughable screenplay, it isn't poor. The actors are all experienced and perform well here. Nandita Das, who plays Sajani, was part of wonderful Indian drama Water. Even director Sivan has an impressive resume. He recently oversaw The Terrorist, which is part of Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" collection. What happened here? Why is this movie so bad? Well, Sivan mentioned how he was inspired to direct this film because of a short he viewed in Israel called Red Roofs. Apparently, the story was "timeless," and Sivan sought to create a similar experience set in 1930's India. I don't have any problem with that approach, but I think Sivan may have been too motivated this time. The actors, cinematography, and set design are acceptable but unless you share Sivan's aura, you'll probably not enjoy it. My recommendation is that you presume you aren't in accordance with him and watch something else. Final Consensus: *and ½ out of *****
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This one took me by surprise...
MartinHafer6 May 2012
When I first began watching this film, I thought it was a movie that romanticized adultery. After all, the first minutes of the film show a very romantic tryst between a Brit living in India (Linus Roache) and his maid (Nanditas Das). However, this is not where the film went and I was quite impressed overall. You see, it turns out that the love is very one-sided. The Brit is married to a sweet lady and you can't see any reason for the man having an affair other than he's a sleazy dog. And, in many ways, this character appears to be a metaphor for the British in India--as he uses this woman and feels a certain sense of superiority. Where all this goes is very gripping--and I was caught by surprise many times. The film is full of interesting characters (especially Rahul Bose, who plays a VERY devoted servant who evolves throughout the film), an excellent script that is intelligently written and assumes the audience isn't stupid and wonderful locales. My only reservation is a small one--and some of the ending is a bit anti-climactic and certainly won't sit well with all the viewers. Still, it's a very good film and one well worth your time.
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A Romantic, but Tragic Love Story
hn-4910616 January 2020
The movie centers around an extramarrital affair between a married English man and his married female Indian servant. The affair leads to tragic consequences to the two lovers and their families. Good plot, acting, and cinematography. I highly recommend this movie.
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Some good points, some not so good points
vincentlynch-moonoi13 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
It took me a little bit to get into this film, but ultimately -- except for the ending -- I really liked it.

First off, no one can accuse these filmmakers of using only handsome actors and beautiful actresses. The film is full of pretty common looking people.

In terms of the ending -- I generally dislike films where the conclusion is left up in the air and where there is not some justice (where appropriate). This film failed me in both instances, but I still liked what came before the conclusion.

Having said that, there are a number of things that make this film rather interesting: 1. A different take on the Indian people wanting the British out of India back in the day.

2. Some striking scenery.

3. 2 men trapped between 2 cultures.

4. Old Indian folklore.

5. No reluctance for the directors to show the abuse of Indian women by their husbands (not in a gratuitous sense).

6. A couple of plot twists that surprised me, but were logical.

Linus Roache plays the Brit managing a spice plantation who falls in love with an married Indian woman; I was not particularly impressed, although he did his job. Nandita Das plays the Indian woman that is the central character in the film; she does very nicely here. Rahul Bose plays the Indian man caught between 2 cultures who becomes the ultimate victim of the film; not an actor I would want to see a lot of, though he plays his part well, particularly later in the film. Jennifer Ehle plays the British wife.

If you're not "into" Indian films, you may not like this, but if you do, you'll find this one a bit different and worthwhile.
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jayleshd17 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Bose, Das and the production team have produced a epic feast not just for your eyes, but your brain. I enjoyed this film and the suspense was incredible.

Das's acting is wow and Bose delivers, but we already know this. These are fine actors, with much talent. I am a keen fan of Nandita Das and enjoy her work.

The period of the film is typical of that associated with India - colonial and historic.

The scenery is beautiful - one of the highlights of this movie.

It is a story of following your heart and making decisions. It is also a story about a woman - the pressure and expectations faced by them.

I would highly recommend.
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Watch it for superb direction and landscape
ansin9 April 2011
Kudos to Santosh Sivan for creating a stellar landscape to depict a compelling tale of love, dedication, simplicity and deception. It is a simple story. Yet, there is hardly a time when the story doesn't grip you. Santosh's ability to weave characters with diverse personalities in a single canvas is remarkable.

The story simmers in the first half. Santosh allows you to connect with each character, unveiling their personalities one at a time. The scenery is marvelous. However, the movie quickly changes gears when a seemingly innocuous event, earlier in the movie, triggers off a never ending domino. You cannot help, but empathize with the characters, as they try to get hold of the situation.

Definitely worth a watch!
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No choice in colonial India
sbutterworth-215 August 2008
I would not call this a film of love and longing at all. The situation is set up in the opening scenes, then it becomes a story of hard realities with no good choices and no happy endings in the disintegrating Raj. The setting is tribal India, not often depicted in literature or film. Beautiful as one might expect from a Merchant Ivory production; intelligent writing and acting. Rahul Bose's character and acting are especially notable. The arrogant Englishman doesn't come off well in this serious drama. The literary term "naturalism" comes to mind. The characters have no control over forces stronger than themselves, thus the metaphor of the monsoon rains.
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Absolutely terrible.
heyian13 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Despite the mysteriously positive reviews and high rating, this is an awful movie. Awful enough, that l feel obligated to warn you how bad it is.

The movie is set in the final period of the Raj, during the time of India's fight for independence. What follows in the ridiculous plot just fills me with disbelief. What the characters do and how they behave just does not persuade me that the characters exist in that era.

For instance, would the young married Hindu housemaid from the local village have an affair with her married Englishman Master, knowing full well that discovery of the affair would likely mean utter social ostracization and shame if not mortal punishment? Unlikely, but still maybe. However, would the same young Hindu housemaid, in the conservative society of India of that era carry on like a half naked Britney Spears in heat, partake in hot outdoor sex during daylight in open view where they might be discovered at any moment? That is not only bloody unlikely, that is a retarded plot line.

Such idiocies combined with the poor acting, drove me to leave the cinema an hour into the movie, so i did not watch the second half of the movie. One could only hope the ending is of more intelligence than what i saw in the first half.
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The same old story of women becoming disposable chattels
transkei17 May 2008
There is nothing doubtful about the actions or intentions of self-proclaimed "altruistic" humanitarian ex-pats who share an equal disconnect between their from their "old" colonial world and the new developing ones - while manipulating and using gullible women to serve their macho prowess.

In the varied movies covering Africa, the Pacific, Indian sub-continent we usually see characters who lack any sizeable depth - fickle at best become the protagonist. It is very difficult to feel any sympathy or real anger to bear for these men are nothings - having not proved themselves to be of any character of worth.

Similarly, in Before The Rains we hardly see any real clash of worlds colliding in Kerala, India - for the Englishman's character shows no redeeming quality. - for he's so much like so many other opportunistic colonial types - taking advantage of the natives - in many more ways than one ...

The planter and would-be road constructor has an illicit affair with his hapless housekeeper - a very comely Indian women from a nearby village - while his assistant - a somewhat educated Indian man from the same village is almost forced to act as cover for his comings and goings - with no way of standing up against or objecting to his master's involvement with this very lovely married women - arranged married to a brutal misogynist. His somewhat elevated status overshadows his deep cultural ties with his own people. He forgets who he is - from whence he came for he has sold his soul to the devil - the British Raj who are facing their final days in their lengthy control of India.

The colonial argument of old, was that as Indians were often viewed as nothing more than "coolies" by the ex-pats (subjects of The Crown) - indentured labour in the colonies; the women - often taken advantage of, were doing nothing more than fulfilling their subservient duty of serving. Many were fooled into believing that their "white" lovers (often married) really cared for them - loved them and were going to leave their wives - often back in England and take them away from their lowly village lifestyles - back to England or into luxurious lifestyles in the cities.

In most cases, these women are oblivious to the "no-strings" relationships these ex-pats have with "native" women - for it is become a known fact that women love with emotion - whereas self-serving men love with passion and lust.

As they have nothing with which to compare their current lifestyles to - as opposed to the "new" ones promised them - they, in their innocence - become all the more ignorant of their lot in life - that of mere concubines ... to be used, abused and cast away ...

Who then are the real misogynists - the controlling brutal husbands - tied to old cultural ways or these free-loving ex-pats with their "hit and run" licentious ways?

To this day, do we still see this type of exploitation taking place in various regions of the world. And yet, people many worlds removed wonder why there is so much mistrust, animosity and hatred for foreigners who suddenly arrive in these somewhat innocent countries (for whatever reason) en masse ...

Washington, DC 5/16/08
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selffamily1 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I had seen this in my local DVD rental story and was waiting my turn to see it, convinced that it would be worth it. Frankly, I found it long winded and tedious. The main character has taken advantage of the local woman and she is besotted with him, convinced that he will 'save' her from everything, abandon his lifestyle, family and wealth for her. all this in a time when Indians are wanting India for themselves - odd that. I found it hard to be sympathetic to those two to start with - as a previous reviewer has noted, some of their actions were just unbelievable. The acting however, is very good, very convincing and my heart went out to TK (the real hero) and the planter's wife, who were both victims here. The scenery is stunning, the skies alone make it worth the dollars spent to watch it, but alas the story comes to an unsatisfactory ending, one is left wondering what will become of the real hero, and not really caring much about any of the others. I am sure it was a product of its time, that this situation arises wherever there are masters and servants, but you can't make a hero out of a cad, however brilliant an actor he is.
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A Tragedy
tswapnil19 December 2010
I personally like Rahul Bose movies a good actor. The movie starts in British India where a Sahib dreams of making some cash through the cashcrops in kerala. He has a girl working at his place and they are in love with each other. The romantic scene in water is good and Nandita definitely looks HAWT in there. SAjani is being forced to marry against here will is in mad love with this sahib who later leaver her alone when his child and wife comes back to country. Sajanis husband finds out and beats her. She makes a rescue and an attempt to live with sahib who turns her down. Depressed sajani shots herself at TK(rahul bose) place. Sahib with help of TK drowns her. Villagers later find out her body.

A tragedy film. Rahul bose has acted well in his serious role. There you get to see a bit of rural India and the old custom. The LIE DETECTOR test of rural India ... watch it to get it.
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Offers nothing new but is an interesting film of British and India relations.
TxMike21 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
British actor Linus Roache is Henry Moores, a wealthy Brit in India during the period when India was beginning to exert its intent to be free of England. The theme in this movie involves building a road such that he can farm herbs and get them to market. For this project a large number of workers is needed.

But the real story is the relationship of his very loyal employee, India actor Rahul Bose as T. K. Neelan. (He is a dead ringer for American Hank Azaria, just with a darker complexion.) Plus his relationship to his domestic help, pretty India actress Nandita Das as Sajani, who works in his estate during the day and walks home to her family in the evening.

Moores' wife is back home with their young son, but both return shortly.

Interesting movie, good acting, but nothing greatly different from other, similar movies.

SPOILERS: Moores and Sanjani have become more than just friends, their attractions for each other evolve into an intimate relationship. They say they love each other. However when some boys spot them at a secluded swimming hole, the news gets back to town, and Sanjani's husband wants to know everything. Moores sums up his choices by giving her money and sending her away. But she returns, sure that Moores will accept her. He can't, it would break up his family and destroy his business, so he tells her he doesn't really love her, she kills herself, they sink the body in a pool, it is later discovered, Moores loses everything anyway. Moral, don't cheat!
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