is the color of sea and sky. On a sunny cloudless day, when
the sky is a deep azure, blue can only be the color of
happiness. Azure derives from the Persian word for lapis
lazuli. Lapis lazuli was used to make the pigment
ultramarine before the 19th century, and Cleopatra was said to
have used powdered lapis as eye shadow. Shades and shadows
of blue . . . because blue is also the color of sorrow and
despair. And it is also the color of the verdant mountain
range called the Nilgiris (lit. the Blue Mountains) that runs
through parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in southern India.
director Santosh Sivan uses a blue filter in his photography that
the Rains a certain poetic mood; the hair of Sajani (Nandita
Das) and T.K. (Rahul Bose) is blue-black, with the
sheen of both peacock and crow, and the entire film is infused
with this blueness. The color gives it a haunting aura . . .
and like a Greek tragedy the story inexorably unfolds. One
know that the rains will arrive, that the monsoon is inevitable,
and that the skies will turn dark with storm clouds.
film opens with scenes of blue mountains and lush foliage.
It is spectacular country - we are never quite told where we are
but because it is set in Kerala and there is talk of growing tea
one assumes that it is the Nilgiris - they are then the blue
mountains of metaphor here. It is 1937 in pre-independence
India and Henry Moores (Linus Roache) is a British
entrepreneur who plans to build a road, grow tea, then
cinnamon. T.K is his Indian right hand man, his trusted and
loyal second. There is a wife (Jennifer Ehle) and
Sajani, the beautiful Indian housekeeper who is also
married. It is a story of love, adultery and death, and a
tale of class, race, culture, and the struggle for Indian
independence. It is simple, simplistic, melodramatic, but
sometimes there is poetry in such simplicity, when all the
elements in a composition are taken to the extreme. Every
gesture in the film serves the plotline - there is nothing
extraneous. As Henry Moores says in the film, "We have
no choice," and to enjoy this film one needs to give in to
blueness and be drawn along by the broad strokes of the
there is always the enduring beauty of the Nilgiri Hills, and as
Sade sang: Azul es el color del rojo cielo . . . .
film was a part of the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year,
and Santosh Sivan's earlier film, The Terrorist, received
much critical acclaim.