Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles has been filmed at least a half-dozen times throughout the years. the most popular version was, of course, "Tess" by Roman Polanksi in 1980 starring Nastassja Kinski in the titular role. There have been others including a television mini-series in 1998 an 2008 in both Australia and the US, plus versions dating back to 1913 silents.


With the emergence of India's film production, it was only a matter of time that we would get an Indian version of the romantic tragedy. Yes, I confess I would have fancied a Bollywood slant, with the singing and dancing, but England's Michael Winterbottom would have none of that and keeps it rather straight-laced.


It does have nice slant and plays well using the built in cultural differences already present in India.

He cast Freida Pinto in the role of Trishna. Pinto, you may recall, got her big break playing a similar role in Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008). In fact, it wouldn't be incorrect to say that Pinto generally plays the object of a man's affection - there was even a hint of it in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"!


Trishna is a peasant girl whose father runs a motor-rickshaw in Rajasthan India. However, tragedy hits when her dad has an accident and the rickshaw is destroyed leaving the family financially strapped.


Fortunately she meets a guy named Jay (Riz Ahmed) who is the son of a wealthy businessman. He has returned from his English education to run his families prosperous business.


On spec, he hires her to work for him - oh and to be his secret mistress. She has to be a secret because he is of a different class than she and that sort of stuff is frowned upon in Rajasthan.

However, he leaves Rajasthan to open a business in Bombay and offers Trishna the opportunity to go along; which she accepts.


Of course Bombay is a thriving industrial city with many foreign influences. the culture is much more up-to-date and Trishna is able to be freer and their affair more open.


They naturally fall in love which is when Jay starts to allow his kinky side out.


Now Trishna is torn between a better life with some personal shame attached, a decent life with moderate freedom, or a life of secrecy but within the caste guidelines of Rajasthan.


Combined with the beautiful cinematography that seems to be inherent with movies filmed in India, Winterbottom's film offers a modern take on Hardy's classic tale. Pinto is hotter than ever and the guys are more smitten than ever. I just couldn't figure out why Winterbottom referred to Bombay (The old British name) instead of Mumbai!


"Trishna" takes an old tragedy and adds a nice modern facelift, albeit an Indian look. It would have been interesting to see it as a Bollywood film, but...   -- GEOFF BURTON