Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
Two women, related but separated by 60 years, have parallel experiences in the evocative environment of India in this period drama from producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory. Based on the 1975 novel by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (a longtime collaborator for Merchant Ivory Productions), the story begins with Ann (Julie Christie) as she discovers some letters written by her great-aunt Olivia (Greta Scacchi), which soon inspire her to travel to India to continue researching her relative's past. The letters reveal that when she was young, the free-spirited Olivia fell in love with an Indian nobleman (Shashi Kapoor) and left her husband -- an administrator in the British colonial government -- for her new paramour. After Ann arrives in India, her life and the modern rush of cars and people are played off against flashbacks to Olivia's life in a colonial setting. When the environment of each woman is compared and the nature of their momentous decisions are placed side by side, their rites of passage and the society that dominated their choices stand out in high relief. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala won Best Adapted Screenplay at the 1983 British Academy Awards for her script for Heat And Dust.
aunt, extramarital-affair, Hinduism, India (subcontinent), lover, scandal