Michael Winterbottom’s version of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, his third Hardy adaptation, is set in modern day Rajasthan. The main conceit is the tragic story of a beautiful lower caste woman abused by her rich master. With many non-professional extras, including the hotel workers and dancers, the film has sensuous and sultry settings which conceal the story’s heart of cold steel. “We met lots of people who had a very similar story to Trishna’s”, said the director. “Winterbottom uses the Indian locations with a documentarian’s eye and a dramatist’s mind”, Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor. (Cert 15)
Dir: Michael Winterbottom 109 mins UK/India 2011
UK/ India 2011 109 minutes Cert. 15
Michael Winterbottom could be described as one of our most prolific and diverse film makers, having made full length and serialised films, both for television and for cinema distribution, covering a wide array of subject matter.
Trishna is his third Thomas Hardy adaptation, based loosely on Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Jude (an adaptation of Jude The Obscure, 1996) and The Claim (based on The Mayor of Casterbridge, 2000), are his previous Hardy adaptations.
In Trishna we are transported to modern day India, where the clash of traditional life with modern industrialisation and nouveau wealth are palpable, providing a perfect setting for the tragic story. When British educated Jay (Riz Ahmed) returns to Jaipur to take over the management of his father’s luxurious hotel, he encounters the beautiful but lower caste Trishna (Freida Pinto), with whom he becomes besotted. Fateful events bring the two together, but this is an unequal relationship, and Jay ultimately chooses to follow his preordained path.
Michael Winterbottom’s filmography also includes: Welcome to Sarajevo (1997), 24 Hour Party People (2002), 9 Songs, 2004, A Cock and Bull Story (2005), The Road to Guantanamo, 2006, A Mighty Heart, 2007, and The Killer Inside Me (2010).
Trishna – Freida Pinto
Jay – Riz Ahmed
Jay’s father – Roshan Seth
Kalki Koechlin – Herself
Anurag Kashyap – Himself
Vijay – Harish Khanna
Director – Michael Winterbottom
Screenplay – Michael Winterbottom based on novel by Thomas Hardy
Cinematography – Marcel Zyskind
Original Music – Amit Trivedi, Shigeru Umebayashi
Producer – Sunil Bohra, Melissa Parmenter, Michael Winterbottom
“We met lots of people who had a very similar story to Trishna’s, in that they came from small towns in the countryside and ended up being in the huge commercial centre that is Bombay”, Michael Winterbottom.
“Really outstanding. It radically altered the plot of Tess but nothing seemed arbitrary. The sense of doom was pure Hardy!”
“Images wired [?], alive, pregnant with meaning – by the thousand. Wonderful. Brilliant editing, though a bit too fast for me!”
“A gripping melodrama given a strong and remorseless treatment. The inevitability of the events did not lessen the tension.”
“Superb film. It captured the sense of India brilliantly. Good story, too!”
“Very enjoyable – wonderful scenery and story”
“Beautiful photography – strong meat”
“The scenery and sudden changes of sound throughout were excellent, as was the acting. A pity that the opening and closing credits were so badly projected.”
“The legacy of empire! One of the best films so far this season. The integration of politics and emotion at the personal level.”
“An excellent film with great support from the lyrics and the songs.”
“Despite the colour of the Indian locations, it was hard to see what they added to the story. (She was gorgeous, though!)”
“Fascinating setting but too long. Certificate 15??”
“Didn’t grab me but some moving scenes.”
“Interesting but Hardy handled the story-line better.”
“Drawn-out travelogue that thought it was much more meaningful than it was! Easy on the eye, though, as was the Indian Julia Roberts….”
“More like Romeo and Juliet than Tess but al least we saw a lot of modern India.”
“More Bollywood than Hardy!”
“Well – we had to wait a long time until the cad got his come-uppance.”
“Always look on the bright side of life …. la, la, la, la ….”