Written and directed by the English filmmaker Michael Winterbottom, this is not the kind of movie Indian audiences will embrace or be even remotely be at ease with. Sadly so, because the cinematography captures the heart beat of India better than any Bollywood movie. Rarely have I seen a film that is more true to India than Trishna, and I am not talking about the narrative itself. The country, the land, the contrasts between cities and villages, the crass class divide. You could smell India, taste it. It comes alive with all its vibrancy. Great locations. Breathtaking images.
The narrative starts out almost idyllic with a dash of uncomfortable. Foreign visitors and their Indian friend stop at a small village in India to visit a temple, where Jay (Riz Ahmed), son of privilege, has a chance encounter with Trishna (Freida Pinto), a girl from a nearby village who works at a hotel. A tumultuous, uneven, condescending love affair evolves.
This love story was obviously written by a firaqi, a foreigner who superimposes or rather views India through a Western lens. And yet it feels authentic on many levels.
This movie is beautifully shot and will linger in your mind for a long time. Freida Pinto is exquisite in her role as Trishna, impressive in her subtle and quiet elegance. We don’t get to understand her character implicitly, her motivations, neither hers nor Jay’s and yet, we take their actions at face value. Both are undergoing transformations in their relationship, but what exactly motivates them to act out one way or the other remains an enigma.
The resolution to this drama that unfolds a lot like a Greek tragedy does not feel authentically Indian. I would have liked to see a positive spin and encouraging ending to this saga in order to become a commercial success. Trishna being able to FREE herself and claiming her life back would have been the better ending and NOT because it would be commercially more viable, but to encourage young women to assert themselves, to leave an abusive relationship and to believe that it can be done.
Trishna was able to leave her parents, her relatives behind but not this abusive shmuck? She seemed to be quite a fighter and resourceful. Nah…
Sorry, the ending made no sense to me. Yet, I would highly recommend you to see the movie.
…PS I enjoyed Anurag Kashyap and Koelki appearing as themselves. Great little touch.
And I bet Anurag digs this movie and probably helped to put it together….