Film: Trishna (2011)
Cast includes: Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) Riz Ahmed (Four Lions)
Director: Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart, The Trip)
Genre: Drama based on Thomas Hardy's novel, Tess of the d'Urberville (117 minutes)
The guys are tossing around ideas for their holiday in India. What a lark. "Be sure to think of me out here suffering in the heat for the next year." It seems Jay won't be returning to London with his hard-partying friends. For now, they're off to a remote dessert town. "Why did you bring us here anyway?" "There's a really nice 2,000 year old temple." While touring the temple, Jay notices Trishna and can't take his eyes off her. When he spots her again that evening, he strikes up a conversation. "Do you go to university?" "No Sir, it would be too expensive for my family." Jay really is quite taken with Trishna, even though she's clearly not in his social class. He later tells her that his father owns a hotel in Jaipur, and he can get her a job there. Trishna and her family lead very hard lives, indeed. When her father wrecks the truck, the future looks bleak -- until the letter arrives offering Trishna a job: 2,500 rupees a week. Trishna doesn't want to go, but her family needs the money.
Jaipur is such a big city compared to Trishna's hometown. She's surprised that Jay comes on his motorcycle to pick her up at the station. Jay goes out of his way to show her around and get her settled in. The grounds are very exotic, and the birds, in particular, need tending -- it'll be one of Trishna's duties. In a couple of weeks, Trishna is ready to start working in the hotel's dining room. Jay continues to take an interest in her and surprises her with a TV for her room. Trishna especially loves dancing along to the Bollywood musicals, but she does her best to keep a proper distance from Jay. They're not the same social class, after all. But when Trishna runs into some rowdy troublemakers and Jay comes to her rescue, she allows him a kiss and more. Eventually, Jay moves to Bombay. "In Bombay, nobody cares if we're together. Will you come with me to Bombay?" Trishna says she will.
For a while, things go well and Trishna seems fairly happy. There are many complex twists and turns in this story, but there's one constant -- Trishna is living in a world that's far above her humble status. Based (very loosely) on Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urberville, Trishna attempts to tell a Victorian story set in modern-day India. On the positive side, it is visually appealing and there are interesting plot elements. However, it falls short as a Victorian story, while it seems rather peculiar as a modern-day story. Considering that the story significantly departs from the novel, you'd have expected them to use creative liberties to resolve some of the awkwardness. With so many seductive ingredients, you may find yourself wondering why you just can't fall in love. Even the teachings of the "Kama Sutra" aren't quite enough to ignite this difficult relationship.
2 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
India's caste system makes being together impossible, but he pursues her anyway
Rated: R (Sexual content)
Distribution: Mainstream limited release
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: High-end production
Character Development: Should be better
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure entertainment
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You may also want to read about other films with Freida Pinto:
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger