Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
India/Canada, 1998. Cracking the Earth Films Inc., Jhamu Sughand Productions. Screenplay by Deepa Mehta, based on the novel Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa. Cinematography by Giles Nuttgens. Produced by Anne Masson, Deepa Mehta. Music by A.R. Rahman. Production Design by Aradhana Seth. Costume Design by Dolly Ahluwalia. Film Editing by Barry Farrell. Toronto International Film Festival 1998.
Beautifully shot romance set against the political backdrop of India on the brink of partition: the British Empire is about to withdraw its control over the nation and talk is rife of defining a border to create what would eventually become present-day Pakistan. In Lahore, tensions among Sikh, Muslim and Hindu populations reach a boil, violence leading to massacres and terror for the city’s citizens. Representing this situation in miniature is a beautiful woman (Nandita Das, reuniting with her Fire director Deepa Mehta) who works as an Ayah for a little Parsi girl whose perspective dictates the tale. Das spends her days in the company of friends from all religions, loved specifically by two handsome Muslim men who think little of her being a Hindu until the violence and unrest of the city, sparked by a gruesome massacre on a train, suddenly means that all human interaction is impossible without the influence of politics. Deepa Mehta’s direction is assured and poignant on all aspects of the film, the grand scope of historic terror as richly realized as the delicate relationships at the film’s centre, with marvelous performances and beautiful cinematography topping it off for a fully realized experience.