Before The Rains (Santosh Sivan 2007)

Before The Rains

Heart of dark pepper

 Sivan (Asoka, Terrorist,(Cin) Bride and Prejudice)  has missed his wildlife photographer calling. There’s no imax theater chain in Bollywood. Maybe his calling does not pay enough that he needs to disguise his natural photographer profile as a filmmaker’s. Maybe he just doesn’t realize where his real skills are. Maybe he wont collaborate with any real filmmakers from ego reasons, in any case Before the Rains (which is now in limited release in the US, and thus requires a comment on the journal,) is an imax example of why the world needs script writers, directors (which is a separate skill than cinematographer) and music directors,editors? Somebody….?  apart from cinematographers grown like cancer , all over a film.

Honey Honey


The Heart of Darkness , a 1902 Joseph Conrad book, about the evil that lurks within the heart of imperialist men, has been tremendously influential in some south asian literature circles. Its almost as if, to some, the literary movements of post colonial studies and Salman Rushdie’s magic realism never happened.I guess, if you own cardamom plantations in Kerela, and control the lives of a few thousand people, you can shut your eyes and pretend that the semi real world passing by is merely patterns of clouds.Sivan’s film is set firmly in this territory.  Perhaps Sivan is inspired by the happenings in iraq and occupied Palestine that he needs to make a statement that sounds retrogressive even as the real world is becoming thus retrograde.Before the Rains is a photographic monolith from the Western Ghats documenting  the evil that men do to them , which is interred with the women’s bones, in the name of love.


Sivan’s film comes , in inspiration, from a much more complex 1993 work by Adoor Gopalakrishnan    called Vidheyan(The Servile) which was a meditation on the willing acceptance of slavery by an immigrant. While I gets the feeling that Sivan is unequal to the task of refocusing the Gopalakrishnan opus to address Sex colonialism, one also has pity for what is in effect a great set of  images without deep coherence or drama’ It  feels like an excuse for cliched jingo.



Nandita Das playing the complexly imagined Sajani (and everyone pronounces Sajani differently) is the only fleshed out charecter in the film. Her motivations and actions feel real .Everyone else seems to be reactions to her central presence. I am not a fan of mother goddess earth films, mostly because it’s a grand elegant metaphor that fits all agendas. Thankfully the mother goddess is just an allusion in this film. People who want to make that connection may.

National Geographic images 

In the end BTR feels like a glossy in a dentist office or a Cinemax late-nighter ,except we see little flesh(Thankfully, Das’ femme is more substantive than mere skinshows). I’d see Wide Sagasso Sea for a more competent treatment of the same post colonial issues , less of a washout too.


Edited to add: as I commented to Joey, I Think Before The Rains is a good viewing experience, it just is barely a tenable feature film.


About rameshram

Name : Ramesh Ram... Email Address : (don't even ask) Blog: (never updated) Height/ Weight: 6'1 175 (varies between 160 and 185) Color of hair/ eyes black/ brown Bald? Nope (not yet, but give me 20 years.) Interests: Film (Bollywood/international indie), Travel (Germany/Japan/Central America/Sout/east/west Asia/ Northern Africa), Gizmo geek, Clubbing... What do I like in a good movie?: Women, Music, Auters, Special effects, Style. What do I like in a bad movie?: Women, Music, Auters, Special effects, Style. Favorite Critic: International: Bazin Domestic: J Hobermann Indian : me. (noone else comes close ...India or here..) Best quality: Humility. Outspokenness. Warmth Worst quality: Intolerence Favorite color : Yellow Black Blue Favorite Perfume : men: Grey Flannel(Geoffery Beene) Women: Celine dion: Obsession Boxers / briefs : Boxers Did I inhale: And how! Author: Marquiz, Rushdie, Murakami, Jong Last Book: The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton, Catherine A. Liszt Music : Patricia Kass, Alejandro Sanz,Nina Simone, Amir Diab Sports person: What am I usually in : White briefs and tees. Chianti or Burgandy: Chianti Food: French Japanese(street/fast food). Saw and liked: No Country for old men, Lust Caution Saw and disliked: Nishabd Didnt see: Aaja Nach le. Call me: Write me first.
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