Malayalam-speaking T.K. Neelan (Rahul Bose), Rajat (Lal), Manas (Indrajith Sukumaran), and his sister, Sajani (Nandita Das), live in Kalpetta Township in Kerala, India, during the British Raj. As children, they used to play in the woods where Manas and T.K. used to play Bhagwan Shri Ram and Shri Lakshman, respectively, and rescue Sita (Sajani) from Lord Ravan's (Rajat's) clutches. Now the year is 1937, all are grown up, while Manas is a laborer, Sajani is married to Rajat, and T.K. works for his British employer, Henry Moores (Linus Roache), who lives there with his wife, Laura (Jennifer Ehle), and their son, Peter (Leopold Benedict). Sajani is also employed as a maidservant in the Moores household. T.K.'s headmaster asks him to join the freedom movement and ask the British to quit India, but T.K. feels that India has made a lot of progress under the British rule and they should continue with this partnership. His headmaster cautions him that partnership is only between equals, but ...Written by
The story takes place in 1937, but the pickup truck seen throughout the film is a 1950's Jeepster truck. See more »
T. K. Neelan:
Sahib, we will have to change course again.
This has got to be the damnedest crookedest road in the Crown!
T. K. Neelan:
Oh, definitely. But it will be here after monsoon. A straight road would slide away.
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social commentary ultimately wins out over melodrama
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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