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Heat and Dust ( 1983)- A Merchant Ivory Film

January 12, 2013  by: ushakiran  Points: 18   Category: Movies    Views: 1042

Heat and Dust is based on the novel written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, which won a Bookers Prize in 1975. The screenplay for the film was written by the writer herself , and she has done a tremendous job.

         

Films based on Indian culture



There have been many such films on the British experience in India, and most of these films have tried to highlight some aspect of the cultural contrast between the East and the West. There were films like Jewel in the Crown, A passage to India,Bhavani Junction ,City of Joy and Heat and Dust... Heat and Dust (1983) is a Merchant Ivory Productions award winning film, with a screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala based upon her novel, Heat and Dust..Directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant, this is one of their many films on colonial India.They had earlier made 'Householder' and 'Shakespeare wallah' , both of which starred Indian Actor Shashi Kapoor in the lead role.

Heat and Dust is based on the novel written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, which won a Booker's Prize in 1975. The screenplay for the film was written by the writer herself , and she has done a tremendous job.

Heat and Dust (1983) is a Merchant Ivory productions Award winning film.Directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant, this is one of their many films on colonial India.They had earlier made 'Householder' and 'Shakespeare wallah' , both of which starred Indian Actor Shashi Kapoor in the lead role.

There have been many such films on the British experience in India, and most of these films have tried to highlight some aspect of the cultural contrast between the East and the West quite successfully. There were films like 'Jewel in the Crown ', A passage to India, Bhavani Junction ,City of Joy and Heat and Dust...





The story



Heat and Dust is the story of two English women living fifty years apart. Olivia(Greata Scacchi) going through a troubled marriage with an English government official Douglas rivers(Christopher Cazinove) assigned to India in the 1920s. The unnamed narrator of the story is Anne Olivia's Grand niece ( Julie Christie) who, intrigued by family rumors and gossips about Olivia, travels to India seeking answers to Olivia's mysterious life in India..

Olivia bored by the English social circle, and disturbed by her troubled marriage, meets a Nawab of Kathm (Shashi Kapoor) a minor prince , and a womanizer of questionable character, who hates the Britishers and the British Rule, and yet is unable to resist the charms of the lovely Olivia.She falls in love with him and travels frequently with him to his place Kathm , and their affair gives rise to the predictable gossip and Olivia has to face the consequences...But there were questions that remained unanswered as to did she leave her husband for the Nawab or were there other reasons? And more importantly What happened to her afterwards?

Fifty years later, Ann Comes to India to investigate her Grand aunt's past.She goes around with the help and in the company of Inder lal ( Zakir Hussain) and she finds herself in similar situations as her aunt had been...The film portraits the difference in the approach and the manner in which the two women handle these situations in their life.No doubt time and period does play an important factor..

My views



I love watching films with an Indian setting made by British directors.They somehow are able to make India look more beautiful , romantic and exotic and yet the same time are very realistic in their approach and presentation.

The film Heat and Dust is set in two distinct eras, the colonial India of the Nineteen twenties, during the time of the British Raj, and the independent, India of the early nineteen eighties, where India is firmly finding its own cultural identity. It is a long film at 3 hours plus, since a lot of details get covered.

It explores the Anglo Indian fascination and romance that had been part of India during the British Rule.

In the film , we witness India's past through Olivia's letters and journals and the narrator's imagination. For Olivia, , India was like another world altogether, another reality, far removed from the day-to-day existence of the common people. But when she faces life in India, she tries to see it with a lot of romanticism, but the realities are different not so romantic and sometimes even harsh, as she realises later on .

In contrast, sixty years down the line , we see Ann being more in grip with the realities of India , as she sublets a room and shares a courtyard with an Indian family and learning about their life and their ways trying to integrate..

The film shows us both pre and post-independent India, the similarities and the differences of India in each period, and the impact it has on each of the women.It is beautifully shot in locations ranging from Varanasi to the Himalayas,Shimla and the dusty streets of other smaller cities and the ravishing deserts and streets of Rajasthan...

Acting wise ,Shashi Kapoor as the Nawab is his usual charming self.He was a great favorite with the English producers when they made a film on India.But it is the beautiful Greta Scachchi and her story of romance that stays in the minds of the viewers.Julie Christie is perfect in a contrasting role to that of Olivia, a free thinking independent modern day woman, bent on knowing the truth about her ancestor.Tabla mastero Zakir Hussain has a small yet an important role as Inder lal , Ann's lover..Zakir Hussain makes an appearance every once in a while in films that are made in the West.

The sets are beautiful and very elegant with rich costumes made of Indian silks and chiffons in shades of peach,cream,pale orange and honey with rich embroidery and texture- this itself is a treat to watch.It is a film that most people can identify with since it is a period film that is shot in two different times ...the direction is superb, where the story bounces back and forth- the transformation very effectively done and shown.

(http://tv-movie-reviews.knoji.com/heat-and-dust-1983-a-merchant-ivory-film/)




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