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The Bengali Night

13 customer reviews

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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.

Special Features


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.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Cinema Libre
  • DVD Release Date: June 23, 2009
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0026B6WVW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,012 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Portello on September 16, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
"The Bengali Night" is a very subtle and beautiful film, where Indian culture has the leading role even if Hugh Grant and John Hurt are both excellent. As the film begins, we are introduced to the world of those expatriates living in India, although there are some, like Hugh Grant's character, Allan, who refuse to absorb this very strong and powerful culture. Allan is an engineer who builds bridges and paves roads with his young European mentality. Yet, there are others like Hurt's character, who instead, embrace the culture to the point that they fall into it; become obsessed by it. So, when Allan becomes ill and is invited to stay at the home of his employer, he dives head first, leaving behind his European past, including friends and a girlfriend. It's not too difficult for him to then fall in love with the boss' daughter, Gayatri, who is beautiful, charming, and the perfect "guide" for Allan. However, passion in India between a white man and an Indian woman is not something that is tolerated, and our two lovers are not prepared for the consequences. The film is held together by a wonderful cast, which includes the great Shabana Azmi, one of Indian cinema's greatest stars, along with other actors of Satyajit Ray's team. It was Hugh Grant's first starring role, and his youth and naivety makes his character ever more endearing. Based on a true story between the philosopher Mircea Eliade and Maytrei Davi, who became one of the most important poets of Bengal, the film wraps us up in the flavor and magic of India, and refuses to let go. A beautiful and very powerful film. Phil Ed.
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9 of 10 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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2 of 2 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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