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The Bengali Night


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The Bengali Night + The Lady and the Highwayman (1989)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Shabana Azmi, Anne Brochet, Soumitra Chatterjee, Utpal Dutt, Hugh Grant
  • Directors: Nicolas Klotz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Cinema Libre
  • DVD Release Date: June 23, 2009
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0026B6WVW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,378 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Hugh Grant stars as a British engineer who becomes entangled in a forbidden romance with his Indian employer's eldest daughter. As their passion ignites, the East-meets-West clash of cultures leads to surprising and tragic consequences. Based on a true story, the film beautifully captures the magic and mystery of India. The accomplished cast includes John Hurt and Shabana Azmi, one of India's greatest film stars.

Customer Reviews

2.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
The characters are odd, inexplicable, and just downright weird.
Traveler
He does describe the culture as bazaar (not his word) as he experienced it- for example, the humongous lunch he was given.
ubalu
Hugh Grant as Allan is a gray, featureless character moving like he's overdosed on Valium.
WesTexan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By WesTexan on September 4, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I found this film to be a conglomeration of eccentric characters poorly portrayed. The editor must have been on drugs. The film moves in awkward jerks like a five-car pileup in slow motion. The storyline is predictable and offers nothing to recommend it. The true story has promise as a film, but this production is not it.

Hugh Grant as Allan is a gray, featureless character moving like he's overdosed on Valium. Allan's girlfriend is simply a freak. (None of the relationships are clearly drawn.) John Hurt's talent is wasted on a character of little consequence. Maybe he is supposed to be the comic relief. Supriya Pathak as Gayatri is absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately her beauty cannot save this mess.

The real killer was that the DVD had the quality of a pirated movie. It had the appearance of a an 8-mm home movie copied directly to DVD (in someone's garage). The quality is grainy with extremely harsh contrast: shadows are muddy while highlights are washed out. The colors are garish. Hugh and John's faces break out like acne in lurid tenges of red and yellow. The titles are severely blurred. A line of text that appears at the beginning of the film -- that is meant as an introduction to the film -- is unreadable.

Need I go on?
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Brian E. Erland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 16, 2006
Format: DVD
`The Bengali Night" released in '88 is based on the novel `La nuit bengali' written by Mircea Eliade, one of the most respected experts in religion and sociology of the 20th century. Based on a true story `The Bengali Night' is a masterpiece of existential storytelling; intelligent, articulate and highly mystical. You can almost see the genius mind of Eliade at work.

The film succeeds in capturing all the Occidental, existential angst of Beckett and Sartre while adding a high degree of Indian mysticism thus bringing a texture and flavor to the story. It's absolutely intoxicating. The dialogue is so profound that you'll find yourself backing up the disc now and then to hear the imparted words of wisdom again. Add to this wonderful script the exotic urban landscape of India and a near hypnotic soundtrack, you'll find yourself lost in a world of images you'll want to revisit often. This is truly a hidden cinematic gem waiting to be discovered by "All the lost sheep who wander through this world." The only flaw is the DVD itself. The picture is somewhat grainy and spotted, it's definitely in need of a remastering.

Strong performances by Hugh Grant and John Hurt, but the true stars in this film are the two Indian beauties Supriya Pathak as Gayatri and Shabana Azmi as Indira Sen.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Traveler on June 4, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I watched this movie with someone of Bengali descent. Both of us agreed within 10 minutes that the film was not good. Within a half hour it was nothing less than excruciating to watch.

"The Bengali Night" is just an awkward movie. The characters are odd, inexplicable, and just downright weird. John Hurt's character in particular borders on creepy. The conflict between Grant's character and the daughter's father is telegraphed very early on.

This film is not a "classic" regardless of what others might claim. Just look on rottentomatoes and you'll see that not a single reviewer even bothered with this rather unknown film. I'm not saying this as either a snob or as someone who doesn't like great movies. I appreciate everything from "Casablanca" to "Brokeback Mountain" to "Speed." That's how bad this movie is.

If you love Hugh Grant and want to see something from his early days then this might be an interesting watch. He has a rather odd accent in this film and it does show him getting his acting chops. Everyone else should probably stay away from this film like the plague.

Edit: I know that this movie has roots in the real life story of two academics, Devi and Eliade, who fell in love in their youth and were separated by Devi's traditional Indian father. The true story is tragic, but little of that is depicted in this odd film. It simply makes this movie seem even more flawed - there was enough story here for a classic and the director simply failed to deliver.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ubalu on July 21, 2012
Format: DVD
To understand this movie, one has to be familiar with the background of Mircea Eliade, Grant's character. The movie, set around 1928 or 1930s, is based on his true life experience in India. Eliade later became a very renowned scholar of religion and philosophy and a professor at the University of Chicago. He had two gurus, one of them Indian, Shri Surendranath Dasgupta, the top scholar of Philosophy and Region in the 1900s. The Maharaja of Calcutta offered scholarships to European scholars to study in India. Eliade, a Romanian, was selected. He lived in Dasgupta's house during his study years and had a romantic and physical relationship with Dasgupta's daughter Maitreyi (Gayatri in the movie). This is the context of the movie. Eliade and Maitreyi were very much in love. Of course, the relationship was forbidden by any standards in the early 1900s India and this led to tragedy.

This movie is a blur! The story line and the scenes are very unclear even for those who have read Eliade's book. The movie has no subtitles. Subtitles are a must for movies where the characters speak with different accents.

Hugh Grant and Shabana Azmi have done a very good job with their roles. The confusion in Grants' character's face every time he encounters something strange or puzzling about the Indian culture is interesting.

It is very important to listen to the Producer's interview, which is quite an eye-opener. He talks about the specific difficulties he encountered in shooting the movie, the difference in the `concept of time' as experienced by the Indians versus Europeans, the hospitality of the Indians, meeting the real Maitreyi, and law suits by Indians (which they did not pursue). He is still grateful and recommends that everyone visit India. He does describe the culture as bazaar (not his word) as he experienced it- for example, the humongous lunch he was given.

The movie is somewhat disappointing.
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