Based on Thomas Hardy’s classic novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles, master filmmaker Michael Winterbottom’s newest film stars Freida Pinto who soars as Trishna (Rated R – English and Hindi) in her most revealing performance yet. The film is currently being screened at the Lagoon Cinema in Uptown Minneapolis.
Trishna lives with her family in a village in Rajasthan, India’s largest state. As the eldest daughter, she works in a nearby resort to help pay the bills. Jay (Riz Ahmed, Four Lions) is the wealthy son of a property developer. When he takes up managing a resort at his father’s request, he meets Trishna at a dance and their fates cross. Jay finds every opportunity to win Trishna’s affection and she accepts his efforts with shy curiosity. But when the two move to Mumbai and become a couple, Jay’s deep family bond threatens the young lovers’ bliss.
Shot with Winterbottom’s agile camera, Trishna is a powerful look at the tension between ancient privilege and modern equality, between codes of urban and rural life and ultimately a hymn to both the glory and the tragedy that comes with beauty in all forms.
Winterbottom said he first had the idea of making Trishna eight or nine years ago. The film is based on Thomas Hardy’s classic novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
“We were working on a film called Code 46 and we shot for a few days in Rajasthan,” he said. “On one of the recces we visited the desert outside Osian. I was with some crew from Mumbai, and there was an incredible contrast between the life of the crew from Mumbai and the people of the village, whose lives were just beginning to change with the forces of mechanization, industrialization, urbanization and above all education.
The experience reminded Winterbotoom of Thomas Hardy, and in particular Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Hardy was describing a similar moment in English life. A moment when, in the nineteenth century, the conservative rural communities were being transformed by the agricultural and industrial revolutions, when fewer and fewer people were being employed on the land, so people moved to the local towns or cities.
“The railways provided greater possibilities of movement, and education started to offer the possibility of social mobility,” he said. “Tess is a character who has more education than her parents, who doesn’t speak the local dialect like her parents, who feels slightly set apart from the other dairy maids she works with and can dream of a better life. Tess’s tragedy is that she has one foot in the fixed, old rural world, and one foot in the new, mobile, urban world.”
Trishna is played by Freida Pinto. After becoming a fixture on the big screen with the critically and commercially acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire, Pinto is now an international film star and household name.
She garnered international attention for her debut film role as Latika in Slumdog Millionaire and was nominated for “Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” for her role at the 2009 BAFTA Awards. The movie itself won 8 Academy Awards including “Best Motion Picture” and had another 100 wins and 51 nominations.
Pinto can currently be seen in The Weinstein Company’s Miral, a drama centered on an orphaned Palestinian girl growing up in the wake of Arab-Israeli war who finds herself drawn into the conflict from Oscar-nominated director Julian Schnabel. Pinto stars opposite James Franco in the hugely successful summer blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the.
In October Black Gold, starring Antonio Banderas, will have its world premiere in Doha, Qatar at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival. In November, she can be seen starring in Immortals opposite Henry Cavill and Mickey Rourke which is loosely based on the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur and the Titanomachy.
Prior to shooting Trishna, Pinto starred in Sony Pictures Classics ensemble You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger from director Woody Allen alongside Sir Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin. Before hitting the big screen, Pinto made her mark anchoring Full Circle a travel show which was telecast on Zee International Asia Pacific. She went on assignments to Afghanistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Fiji among other countries. Pinto currently resides between Mumbai and London and is a spokesperson for L’Oreal Paris.
The role of Jay is portrayed by Riz Ahmed, a 2004 Oxford University graduate along with the Central School of Speech and Drama in 2005.
Ahmed has worked consistently in film, theatre and television. His first feature, the controversial and gripping docu-drama: The Road to Guantanamo, directed by Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross, won a number of awards, including the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and Best British Documentary at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs) in 2006.
Ahmed saw continued success with his next feature Shifty, directed by Eran Creevy, which saw him win Best Actor at the Geneva Film Festival and received a nomination for Best Actor at the BIFAs. In 2009 Riz appeared in Sally Potter’s experimental film Rage, which co-starred Judi Dench and Jude Law, and in Neil Marshall’s Scottish set, roman epic Centurion.
His most recent work includes Four Lions, the debut feature from director Chris Morris, which premiered in official competition at Sundance, and for which he received the BIFA nomination for best actor, Ill Manors written and directed by Ben Drew aka Plan B, and he has recently completed shooting with director Jean Jacques Annaud’s on his next feature Black Gold.
Ahmed has also starred in a number of notable UK dramas including Britz, directed by Peter Kosminsky for Channel 4 which won Best Drama at the Television BAFTAs and Best Drama at The Royal Television Society Awards, as well as receiving an Emmy nomination. His other television work includes the acclaimed series Dead Set directed by Yann Demange, and Dominic Savage’s Freefall. Riz’s stage work has included performances at the English National Opera in Gaddafi: A Living Myth for David Freeman and in Prayer Room for Angus Jackson, initially performed at the Edinburgh International Festival. Riz also has an active music career as Riz MC.