Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Canada/South Africa/United Kingdom, 2007. Partition Films Inc., Astral Media, Khussro Films, Movie Central Network, Myriad Pictures, Sepia Films, Téléfilm Canada, imX Communications. Screenplay by Patricia Finn, Vic Sarin. Cinematography by Vic Sarin. Produced by Tina Pehme, Kim Roberts. Music by Brian Tyler. Production Design by Amardeep Behl, Tony Devenyi. Costume Design by Dolly Ahluwalia, Jana MacDonald. Film Editing by Reginald Harkema.
Britain’s withdrawal from India after centuries of colonization leaves the country divided by civil strife, with opposing factions of Seikhs and Muslims creating the nation of Pakistan out of a terrible war of religious ideologies that kills many people on both sides of the line. In this film, the heart of this struggle is the love that develops between a Seikh villager (Jimi Mistry) returned from fighting World War II for England and a Muslim woman (Kristin Kreuk) whom he saves from being killed by his vengeful fellow villagers; she is escaping the massacre of her people that was avenged through a mass killing of his. All the while that he is taking care of this woman and slowly falling in love with her, Mistry’s British friend (Neve Campbell) is in New Delhi trying to locate her family, herself beginning to experience the development of India’s true independence and how her presence there is less and less welcome with the progression of days. This film has pretty much everything necessary for a solid epic: great characters, rich romance, gorgeous scenery (the photography is on par with the most beautiful images in A Passage To India or Out Of Africa) and some wonderful performances. Mistry can only be described as masterful, while the irresistible Madhur Jaffrey turns in a marvelous role as his mother. The only weak link is Campbell, whose accent is atrocious and whose command of the character is sorely lacking; she represents an important aspect in this development of Indian history, the caring but conservative (and unwittingly patronizing) colonizer, and it’s a shame that this wonderful role, which would be a piece of cake to a strong actress like Kristin Scott Thomas, is beyond her grasp. Still, she isn’t in the film enough to ruin it, and neither she nor the unnecessarily melodramatic conclusion deter from the fact that it’s a really wonderful experience.