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Before the Rains

(No longer in theaters)
  • Rating: PG-13 — for violent content and a scene of sexuality
  • Director: Santosh Sivan   Cast: Leopold Benedict, Rahul Bose, Nandita Das, Jennifer Ehle, Indrajit
  • Running Time: 97 minutes
  • Reader Rating: Write a Review




Mark Burton


Roadside Attractions

Release Date

May 9, 2008

Release Notes


Official Website


Before the Rains has a cool, evocative mixture of beauty and ominousness. It’s set in lush Kerala, in southern India, in 1937, around the time the Raj was having its first, well-earned jitters about the future of Great Britain as a colonial power. This isn’t the best moment to make a major financial investment in the country, but the upper-crust Englishman Henry Moores (Linus Roache) has lofty dreams: He’s determined to whack out a road up the side of a mountain to create a spice empire. He’s a rather decent egg—extravagantly complimentary toward his Indian assistant, T.K. (Rahul Bose), who designs the road to resist the monsoon flooding. And he’s no racist: He’s madly in love with his married housekeeper, Sajani (Nandita Das), whom he drives into the sacred woods beside a waterfall to procure honey. She licks it off his fingers, he licks it off hers … all very lyrical but for the two little kids in loincloths watching.

This is another movie in which an illicit affair opens economic chasms and catalyzes disasters, and it’s in danger of being damned with faint praise as a guilty-colonialist Merchant-Ivory period piece. It is—it’s even presented by Merchant Ivory Productions. But the screenplay, by Cathy Rabin and Dan Verete, builds nicely, and the cinematographer turned director, Santosh Sivan, likes to break up the verdant images with bits of encroaching nature: a frog, some bees, the flies on a cow’s eye. Before the Rains is more engrossing as the focus shifts from Henry, who’s not a bad man, just a spineless one, to Sajani, who thinks her English lover will give her a freedom she has never had—and finally to T.K., who gets stuck cleaning up his sahib’s mess. Rahul Bose has a winning presence—eager with a touch of wariness or wary with a touch of eagerness, and never entirely at home. He keeps the movie from seeming too comfy—a good thing.