The story of the tragic relationship between the son of a property developer and the daughter of an auto rickshaw owner.
Release Year: 2011
Rating: 5.6/10 (428 voted)
Critic's Score: 57/100
Stars: Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed, Anurag Kashyap
Storyline Based on Thomas Hardy's classic novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles, 'Trishna' tells the story of one woman whose life is destroyed by a combination of love and circumstances. Set in contemporary Rajasthan, Trishna (Freida Pinto) meets a wealthy young British businessman Jay Singh (Riz Ahmed) who has come to India to work in his father's hotel business. After an accident destroys her father's Jeep, Trishna goes to work for Jay, and they fall in love. But despite their feelings for each other, they cannot escape the conflicting pressures of a rural society which is changing rapidly through industrialisation, urbanisation and, above all, education. Trishna's tragedy is that she is torn between the traditions of her family life and the dreams and ambitions that her education has given her.
Cast: Freida Pinto
I was lucky enough to attend the world premiere of Trishna at the
Toronto International Film Festival. Here is what I thought of it:
The story is based on one of the most celebrated pieces of literature
of all time, Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the d'Ubervilles". Director
Michael Winterbottom takes this classic tale and adapts it for modern
audiences by changing the setting to contemporary India. Does this
work? Surprisingly, it does, and this is coming from someone who hasn't
ever read the novel nor seen the 1979 Academy Award winning film
adaptation from Roman Polanski, "Tess".
The titular character, Trishna (Freida Pinto), is a humble, soft-spoken
young woman and the eldest daughter of a poor, rural, Indian family.
While working at a nearby resort to help pay the bills, she is swept
off her feet by a young British businessman, Jay (Riz Ahmed), who finds
himself in India to manage a hotel at the request of his father, a
wealthy property developer. When Trishna's father is severely injured
in an automobile accident, Jay asks her to work for him, and she shyly
accepts. Their feelings for each other grow the more they spend time
together. However, Trishna isn't easily torn away from her beloved
family nor her traditional life nor her ambition as a dancer, and she's
in for some drastic changes when she moves to Mumbai with her lover.
To be honest, I really didn't know what to expect from this film. I
entered the theatre only knowing two things about it: (1) the story is
based on a classic novel and (2) it's set against an Indian backdrop.
Never would I have guessed-- even at an hour and a half into the film--
that this simple premise would progressively turn into something a lot
more shocking, to say the least (the last 10 minutes made the whole
audience gasp simultaneously).
This is a unique kind of cinema that really transgresses the boundaries
of conventional filmmaking with the way it develops a seemingly simple
story and with the many reactions it gets out of the audience as it
unfolds. I guess you could call the film a little deceiving, because it
never goes in the direction you imagine it would go. But I'm not
suggesting that there's a plot twist at the end, so please don't go
What makes the ending so shocking, then? It's all due to the gradual,
subtle buildup that does a great job developing the characters of
Trishna and Jay as their relationship becomes increasingly odd and
discomforting for the viewer. I don't know if I was alone here, but as
I was watching the film, I was kind of going through what Trishna had
to go through-- emotionally, of course. I believe this confirms that
Freida Pinto still has what it takes to deliver a solid performance
since her "Slumdog Millionaire" fame. The acting isn't anything amazing
or noteworthy, but there's no denying that she does a good job in her
role, despite being a little inconsistent in some scenes of dialogue
between her and Riz Ahmed, the male co-star who plays Jay. He was
surprisingly decent for a relatively unknown industry newcomer, but--
once again-- nothing extraordinary.
To be honest, if it weren't for this ending, the film's many flaws
would be significantly more distinctive and visible for me. I just
can't get over how well everything is tied together in the last few
scenes. This is where Michael Winterbottom finally achieves in putting
his point across; in making sense out of the film as a cohesive whole.
Apart from the unique structure and progression of the story, "Trishna"
has many other memorable elements. I was particularly blown away by the
beautiful, on-location shots and nearly candid cinematography that gave
us a very realistic perception of life in India, and the
clearly-defined division between both social classes. I loved how a
great deal of non- actors were used in the production of the film (for
instance, Freida Pinto claimed that her character's family was in fact
a real family in rural India who cooperated with the crew).
Throughout the entire film, there's so much absorbing beauty in all the
outside locations in India that you won't believe your eyes! For the
mere fact that what you're seeing in the background is completely real,
you should be as blown away as I was while watching the film! It's
breathtaking! This exquisite imagery is backed up by a powerful
original score from Mike Galasso that complements the Indian
countryside and the Mumbai cityscape without ever sounding too
traditional or foreign. Music plays a key role in enhancing the emotion
of this particular film.
Despite all of these admirable aspects, this film is far from being
perfect (though the concept of perfection is, in itself, flawed). I
still question the pertinence of certain scenes in the film, as well as
the strength of the narrative structure. Will "Trishna" stand the test
of time? Will it live up to its original power upon multiple viewings?
I'm inclined to say "no" to both of these questions, despite being very
affected by this piece of cinema. It was clear that most of the
audience wasn't very impressed by such avant-garde cinema, but I'm sure
I wasn't the only one who admired it in so many ways. To me, this film
feels like a one-time experience; an interesting artistic vision
capable of marking you and staying with you for some time.
So, go ahead! Whenever you get the chance to see this film, I say "go
for it!". It's something refreshingly unconventional that you might
find yourself drawn by for the same reasons as me! I recommend seeing
"Trishna" because of its ultimately shocking, thought-provoking nature.
Come on! You have nothing to lose! (Except a small sum of money,