The Memsahib (2006) Poster

(2006)

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9/10
A very beautiful first film
dswn24 August 2006
In her very first effort, director Kruti Majmudar has created a beautiful film that spans the centuries and gives viewers a delightful peek into Indian history and culture. This love story, with clever twists, is well-acted and nicely paced. The male and female leads (Emily Hamilton and Parvin Dabas, whom you may remember from Monsoon Wedding) play dual roles. In the first part of the film they are characters in a period piece set in the 1850s. Later on, they play a man and woman in current-day India. Cinematographer Rajen Kothari captures the incredible landscape and gives the film a very polished feel. My favorite scene is one where young Indian women are learning to dance at the site of the well that was the springboard for Majmudar's story and also the subject of her Masters thesis for her architecture degree. (Majmudar answered audience questions following the film's World Premiere at the Stony Brook Film Festival in July). The combination of authentic music and gorgeous costumes, traditional dancing and camera movement made me feel I was in on the action -- if not as a participant, at least as an on-site observer. I also enjoyed the character Grace Roberts, a British school teacher with an independent spirit and clearly an example of feminist tendencies going back more than 200 years. The thousand folks who attended the premiere gave the film a very warm reception.
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10/10
captivating love story
zdel0712 March 2007
This movie will jolt your basic premise of love and pose a question in your mind as to how far a woman in love would go to stay connected in body and soul with her beloved. With a colorful backdrop of the British Raj, this well orchestrated love story brings out the colonial interplay between the Indian kings and the British imperialistic intent in a nostalgic and compelling way. One of the best scenes is when the lead character makes some bold choices manifesting her inherent sacrificial nature that transcends her beyond the mortal boundaries. The colorful Indian costumes capture the regal setting of the colonial time period well. The soundtrack is gripping and highlights the emotional theme in a profound manner.
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8/10
immerse yourself in a beautiful experience
returnofhildegard13 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
"The Memsahib" was a gorgeous indie treat, apparently the first (and only) film by an Indian American woman who made a story of reincarnation based on the deep inspiration she felt when she did her masters thesis on the Adalaj Stepwell in Gujurat India (you can google for amazing images and information). The 15th century queen of the Raja who designed the well jumped to her death in the water after her husband died, so the movie is a 19th century colonialism era version of the story with a 20th century conclusion of the reincarnated king and queen finding each other again at the well. Very powerful beautiful movie with fabulous settings and costumes, unfairly scorned by critics who saw only slightly sub-par acting and could not believe or perceive the spiritual heart of the deep fable. I only hope the director's life was appropriately enriched by the experience of manifesting her dream project, even to the point of consciously discovering her own karmic relationship to the legend of the well. If she was the Rani or Raja or a friend of theirs, she has surely done her homeland a great proud service that will continue to resonate for lifetimes to come (the obscure film remains reasonably accessible and available). May Ms. Majmudar be always reunited with her own beloveds too.
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4/10
Sorry to rain on the parade
Though beautifully shot with exotic locales, lavish wardrobe and period sets, this first film is too over-the-top for my tastes. The story is super sweet to the point of childish and though there's a conspiracy afoot, I never really felt the characters were real enough to care much about what happens to them.

Acting-wise everyone did an okay job except for the leading lady. Now, she may be a fine actress but the dialogue she had to deliver, in a proper British accent, before the turn of the last century, was way too 'stagey.' I don't know what it is about speaking the King's English of that period, but it's very hard to pull off convincingly. For the most part it sounded like it was being read from a book on a stage to children. The only performance of late that has been noteworthy would be Kiera Knightly in Pride and Prejudice.

In any case, sorry to inject a reality check into these back slapping reviews, but reality checks should have been happening all through this production. If it's just a playful fantasy film then make a cartoon, but if you want real recognition, real respect and real success, your film needs to feel real and for me it just didn't. What's funny is that in the 30s and 40s this film might have been a big hit.
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8/10
great theme, characters potential 7/10 used
bertij26 September 2006
very interesting story, would have liked to get to know a bit more about daily life of rich and poor. Where is spirituality/ religion for the protagonists? Architecture clearly plays major role, could it have been more part of the story? It's magic is marvelously set up! Laxmi could have told us more about the meaning of dance(s). The romance had slight touch towards newer Indian productions although not too kitschy(Jayant/Vijay). The dream of romance between east and west seems to blossom only in Greek tragedy. todays multicultural superficial melting is not happier. Why was Asha overly afraid of 'taking role' of Grace, since she was already accustomed to India, is the western culture never really comprehending? I had a great movie night!
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