Merchant Ivory’s final film… & more!

Movie Review: Before the Rains (2007)


Tagline: Passion has its price.

My mom saw this movie last month… and LOVED it!  This is the last film produced by both James Ivory (deceased) and Ismail Merchant (his business/life partner).  It is hands-down one of the most (visually) stunning movies out there!  The director, Santosh Sivan, is also a highly respected cinematographer in his native India.  The only other movie that compares (with regard to beauty) is Alfonso Arau’s A Walk in the Clouds.  The natural beauty of southrn India, top actors of Tamil cinema, and the authentic music add flavor to an interesting central story.

TK (Rahul Bose) and Moores (Linus Roache)
TK (Rahul Bose) & Moores (Linus Roache)

British gentleman/planter/family man Henry Moores (Linus Roache, who can currently be seen on Law & Order) has started an ambitious road expansion project in a small village within Kerala in southern India.  He has requested extra funds from the bank, and hopes that the road will hold (after the monsoons).  Moores, a well-liked and generous white man, is aided by his native land manager/”right hand man” TK Neelan (Rahul Bose, one of India’s finest indie actors).   TK is the most interesting person in the film, a bridge between his home village and the British rulers.  Though TK works for Moores, they have a close, friendly relationship. (TK is surprised/delighted when Moores presents him with an English pistol.)

Kerala is a character in the film, too!
Kerala is a character in the film, too!

There are rumors in the village about a couple seen in the woods.  TK realizes that Moores is (dangerously) close to his beautiful/strong-willed housekeeper Sajani (Nandita Das, star of Deepa Mehta’s Earth and Fire; one of India’s finest indie actresses).  Is it love?  Is it mutual? 

Sajani (Nandita Das) w/ Laura Moores (Jennifer Ehle) and son
The Moores' housekeeper Sajani (Nandita Das) tells Laura Moores (Jennifer Ehle) and son a story.

Like Moores, Sajani is married, and a friend of TK’s (since childhood).  But Laura Moores (Jennifer Ehle of Pride and Prejudice fame; an American actress who studied in Britain) doesn’t suspect anything when she returns from London with their young son.  The Moores’ son adores TK and Sajani and is enthralled by their stories.

All smiles at a screening
All smiles on 2 of my fave actors!

TK is VERY engaging, though his face shows subtle expressions and he speaks simply /honestly.  The role of TK is a departure for Bose, Sivan says on the commentary track, because he usually portrays sophisticated/urbane characters (as in Mr & Mrs Iyer and 15 Park Avenue).  Roache does a fine job of  keeping the restraint of an Englishman, but his conflicting emotions come out of his eyes.  The Brit comments that though he has visited India several times, he considers Kerala to be “the most beautiful place in the world.”

Recent iTunes downloads:

Dallas Wayne:  He’s an old-school rockabilly country artist with a sense of fun AND tradition in his songs.  The instrumentals are GREAT!  

3:30 In the Afternoon

I’ll Take the Fifth

If That’s Country: VERY funny criticism of  the modern country scene; some lyrics below…

You can make a star of a teenage girl
But one million dollars won’t make her Merle
Laser beams, navel rings, and a pretty face might be something

But you can kiss my Ozark ass, if that’s country

Now I ain’t denyin’ them suburban moms their fun

But don’t you try to tell me it’s the way Hank wanted it done
You  better keep your money-grubbin’ hands off the poor man’s song

 And make sure Chris Gaines stays the hell offa my front lawn


Mac McAnally:  He’s a singer/songwriter who has been influenced by MANY genres, not just country.  His songs have been decribed as “a piece of Americana.”  The voice is clear, honest, and VERY pure!

If You Hang Around Long Enough

(Nothing Like A) Sunny Day

Until Then


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