16 September 2002 | Au-Cinema
A beautiful and very powerful film.
"The Bengali Night" is a very subtle and beautiful film, where Indian culture has the leading role even if Hugh Grant and John Hurt are both excellent. As the film begins, we are introduced to the world of those expatriates living in India, although there are some, like Hugh Grant's character, Allan, who refuse to absorb this very strong and powerful culture. Allan is an engineer who builds bridges and paves roads with his young European mentality. Yet, there are others like Hurt's character, who instead, embrace the culture to the point that they fall into it; become obsessed by it. So, when Allan becomes ill and is invited to stay at the home of his employer, he dives head first, leaving behind his European past, including friends and a girlfriend. It's not too difficult for him to then fall in love with the boss' daughter, Gayatri, who is beautiful, charming, and the perfect "guide" for Allan. However, passion in India between a white man and an Indian woman is not something that is tolerated, and our two lovers are not prepared for the consequences. The film is held together by a wonderful cast, which includes the great Shabana Azmi, one of Indian cinema's greatest stars, along with other actors of Satyajit Ray's team. It was Hugh Grant's first starring role, and his youth and naivety makes his character ever more endearing. Based on a true story between the philosopher Mircea Eliade and Maytrei Davi, who became one of the most important poets of Bengal, the film wraps us up in the flavor and magic of India, and refuses to let go. A beautiful and very powerful film. Phil Ed.