Before the Rains – Movie Review

A couple of reasons why I watched ‘Before the Rains’ were Santosh Sivan, its director and Nandita Das, its lead character. While I am a huge fan of Santosh Sivan’s cinematography in almost all of the movies in which he collaborated with Mani Ratnam (Roja, Iruvar, Dil Se, Raavanan, need I say more), the fact that I had seen quite a few interviews of his and he came across as this amazingly imaginative person who knows how to get the maximum detail in each and every frame of his piqued my interest in him. Santosh Sivan is almost like an university of cinematography and the script that he picked up for this movie lent itself to be filmed extraordinarily beautifully.
The second reason that I watched this movie was Nandita Das. With her unconventional looks, this powerhouse of a performer had managed to grab my attention with her awesome performances in Earth, Azhagi and Kannthil Muthamittal. In all of these roles, her eyes always seemed to convey a deep sense of sorrow, I don’t know if she was just playing her characters in these movies or whether her eyes do really betray some sorrow in them.
In any case, to get back to the movie itself, it deals with Henry Moores (played competently by Linus Roache) a rubber plantation owner in Kerala (in 1930s Kerala) and his attempts to building a road connecting the prime part of his rubber plantations to the town from where the rubber would find its way to the markets. Henry is ably assisted by his driver, servant and man-Friday in general, TK (a part played wonderfully well by Rahul Bose, yet another powerhouse of an actor who is so grossly under-appreciated by all Indian movie lovers). TK endears himself to Henry due to the fact that he is ambitious, knows English and very wilfully acts as a conduit between the English owner and the Indian workers. In fact, Henry relies a lot on TK and his tact to achieve his ends. Both Henry and TK are working hard to ensure that the road linking the plantation is built ‘before the rains’ in Kerala which are notoriously torrential and will surely end up washing away any unfinished roads up in the hills.
While the road is being built, Henry is also having a clandestine affair with his married maid Sajani (Nandita Das). Coincidentally, when Henry’s wife and son return from Oxford to Kerala, Sajani’s husband discovers her affair with Henry and physically abuses her. Sajani then seeks refuge with Henry who refuses to accept her into the household under the circumstances which leads to her killing herself with a gun. Her disappearance causes quite a furor in the town and what unfolds next forms the rest of the movie. I am not going to reveal the rest of the plot as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anybody who is inspired to watch the movie after this review.
Cameo appearances by Indrajith (as Sajani’s brother) and Lal (as Sajani’s husband) add a lot of value to the movie. The fact that these two are extremely competent actors in the Malayalam industry does not deter them from taking up small roles and delivering extremely competent performances in them. Maybe the fact that they were working in Santosh Sivan’s movie is what prompted them to take up these roles in the first place.
From the perspective of cinematography, Santosh does a brilliant job with the visuals. Each and every frame of the movie manages to capture the natural beauty of the surroundings, and brings to life an entire forest on the movie screen. The fact that the rains keep playing hide and seek throughout the movie also adds a lot to the relevance of the title to this movie. Santosh Sivan has been quoted as saying that Raja Ravi Varma, the great painter king from Kerala inspired his use of lighting in all the indoor shots for this movie.
In a nutshell, as I stated at the very beginning, I was so moved by this movie and the visuals that whenever I think of rains or monsoon, my memories immediately go back to this movie…
Related links
Wikipedia link to the movie –
IMDB link to the movie –

Image Courtesy : Wikipedia

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