Freda Pinto as Trishna
Riz Ahmed as Jay
Out in theaters July 27

Based on Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Trishna is a tragic tale of love and circumstance. Dancing for tourists entertainment in a fancy resort, Trishna (Freda Pinto, Slumdog Millionaire), the poor rural Indian girl meets the young handsome London businessman’s son, Jay (Riz Ahmed). Their paths briefly cross, until an unfortunate accident leaves Trishna with the responsibility of being the sole support of her family. Jay’s father has given him the task of running one of his businesses; a hotel.

Jay gives Trishna a job, and as time goes by, they see each other in passing, in the day to day work at the hotel. Through stolen glances and smiles we can see there is a growing attraction, but neither of them act on it. Trishna, a traditional girl is introduced to a whole new world of possibilities through education as Jay makes it possible for Trishna to take hotel management classes.

One night, after Jay saves her from possibly being attacked by a couple of young men, they finally give in to their unspoken desire.  Afterward, Trishna, having been a virgin, quits her job and runs home in fear of what she’s done and later discovers she’s pregnant.  She decides not to keep the baby and goes back to find another job to support her family.  Jay finds her and begs her to come away to live with him in Mumbai where they can live together openly and not have to hide their relationship from traditional prying eyes.

She agrees.

When she and Jay move to Mumbai, Trishna’s world of possibilities is even more enriched as she is introduced to Jay’s circle of friends, which includes Bollywood actors, directors, and dancers. Circumstances change abruptly for Jay, and he has to leave Trishna alone while he goes to care for his ailing father. Trishna briefly considers all that this new modern life has to offer her, including becoming a dancer which is her secret passion, but she is seemingly unsure of how to, or afraid to, break away from Jay.

In the wake of dealing with his father’s illness and Trishna’s revelation that she had been pregnant, eventually Jay turns their relationship from warm and intimate into one of possession and humiliation, leaving Trishna feeling used and hurt. Realizing that she can no longer continue in the relationship, she makes a very devastating, and unexpected choice to sever ties with Jay and try to return to her former life. But that may not be so easy.

Michael Winterbottom’s direction is very thoughtful. In a way, he uses Jay and Trishna’s relationship to represent the modern India. We see the age old traditional way of life alongside the progress of modern times, while searching for a way to peacefully coexist without completely eliminating the other. I see this film as being melodramatic without being too sentimental or predictable. This is especially the case in the climactic scene where Trishna ends her relationship with Jay. You can’t walk away from this film and not be affected.  I think this is definitely worth a look.

4 out of 5 stars.

Check out the trailer for “TRISHNA” below:

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