Written by Stanley Greenberg Friday, 27 July 2012 00:00
As we scan the local newspaper’s movie section, we see that all the movie houses have basically the same attractions. They have films for teenagers and some for the 6-to-10-year-old crowd. Usually, there’s nothing for the discretionary, discerning and discriminating group, those in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.
Last week as I looked for a sleeper Friday night film I spied a movie called Trishna. On further examination I read that it was the Thomas Hardy story of Tess of the D’Urbervilles transposed into modern India. The astonishing switch from Hardy’s fictional Wessex in Dorchester is truly amazing.
Thomas Hardy is one of the great figures in English literature, who wrote in the latter half of the 19th century. Some of his works that have been transposed into film were Far From the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1896). The Jude movie is one that had me almost weeping for its brutality. Hardy pulled no punches in his examination of the poor morals of the England of his time. He was the victim of bitter critical attacks and wrote only poetry afterwards.
Whilst stories of fallen women have gone out of fashion, Hardy tells of Tess, a poor but beautiful woman from a small village who captures the eye of a rich playboy. Trishna (Tess) is the family breadwinner because her father was hurt in an accident. The playboy takes Trishna to the big city, Delhi, to work in his father’s hotel. Freida Pinto, who last starred in the movie Slumdog Millionaire, is gorgeous in the role. Her face and carriage are simply stunning.
Many of the reviews report that Pinto has no screen presence; I disagree. It is the director, Michael Winterbottom, who is responsible for her acting in this movie. The main story goes on to a tragic ending, but it is the usual tale that emanates from the “male-dominated mores” of the day.
Again, Hardy pulls no punches: We see modern India with all its beauty and all its negatives.