The Bengali Night

A 1988 movie directed by Nicolas Klotz and starring Shabana Azmi, Hugh Grant, Supriya Pathak, Soumitra Chatterjee among others. The story is set in the 1930s Calcutta, when Alan (Hugh Grant) is an engineer working on some projects in Calcutta. His boss is Sen (Soumitra Chatterjee). The earlier part of the film shows Alan with his friends one of whom is Gutrie (Anna Brochet) who is apparently smitten by Alan or otherwise we don’t know. Alan is then hospitalised so he is called upon to stay in his boss house where he meets Gayatri (Supriya Pathak) and her mother (Shabana Azmi). They live in a huge rambling house with high ceilings, library, stairs, terraces etc. Slowly Alan and Gayatri fall in love, Gayatri alarmed at such thing happening because of the cultural difference and Alan nonchalance about it. The latter part of the movie is taken up with the tragic consequences of their love affair.

Hugh Grant has given an absolutely marvelous performance as someone who slowly falls in love, bewildered at first, but bolder later. Ditto for Supriya – a beautiful controlled performance as somebody who is trapped in the cultural and familial boundaries of that era. The music by Brij Narayan is beautiful and haunting. Shabana does not have a major role nor has Soumitra Chatterjee. The ending is quite poignant. The print which i saw on youtube is not very good.

This is based on a 1933 Romanian novel Bengal Nights, written by Mircea Elade and it is supposedly his true story.

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