Backwaters (2006)

vt Betrayed by Passion; vt Kama Sutra 3: Love Potion

UK, India / 86 minutes / color / Mars, Motion Picture Partners, CEE(I), Maverick Dir & Story: Jag Mundhra Scr: Carl Austin, Sam Ketkar Cine: Chandra M. Mouli, Ashok Kumar Cast: Nicholas Irons, Sandra Teles, Tamzin Outhwaite, Jason Flemyng, Gulshan Grover, Milind Gunaji.

At a party thrown by his documentary-making brother-in-law Jason Weiss (Flemyng), writer Andy Becker (Irons), suffering such terrible writers’ block over his sophomore novel that the publisher wants the advance back, witnesses his heiress wife Lilly Taylor (Outhwaite), the hugely popular star of the soap opera The Power & The Passion, banging a stranger in an upstairs bedroom. Later in the evening she passes out. As Andy drives her home he starts falling asleep himself. A heavy vehicle appears on the road ahead and . . .

Six months later, Lilly is still paralyzed from the waist down and is making every waking moment of their married life hell in consequence. The doctors can find nothing physically wrong; her paralysis appears to be psychosomatic. Jason recommends Andy should take Lilly to an ayurvedic center in a remote part of India. Once they’re there, as she starts undergoing her massage treatment, Andy loses his heart to lovely local dancer Sara Varghese (Teles), whom he first spies bathing naked beneath a spectacular waterfall. (The geographical setting of the movie is odd. The main venue seems to be simultaneously close to the Indian Ocean, an inland lake, a mature river and one that’s far inland.)

Backwaters (2006) The local scenery Andy prefers to embittered wife Lilli

The local scenery Andy prefers to embittered wife Lilll

Despite the fact that they’re both married—she to abusive fisherman Thomas (Gunaji)—Andy and Sara fall passionately in love; indeed, they’re clandestinely lovemaking when Lilly goes missing from the houseboat where she and Andy have been living. The next day Lilly’s found drowned in the local lake, caught up in Thomas’s net, wearing nothing but her workaday black underpants. To local cop chief Suresh Manon (Grover) it seems obvious Andy must have killed her, especially when Sara declines to give Andy an alibi, but then it proves that all these events have been planned a long time ago . . .

There’s quite a lot of bad acting in the secondary and tertiary roles, and even the four principals appear not always focused on the job; some of the minor actors’ dialogue seems very obviously dubbed. All in all, this reads rather like a softcore erotic thriller from which almost all of the sex scenes were accidentally lost. It’s not great art but it does have its moments—as when, even though Andy’s stuck in a rural jail in some remote corner of western India, his publisher manages to get the message through that he plans to sue over the outstanding book advance.

Backwaters (2006) The local scenery Andy prefers to the waterfall

The local scenery Andy prefers to the waterfall

The second vt is quite irrelevant to the movie, being obviously just a (Philippines) distributor’s attempt to cash in on the popularity of the softcore erotic Kama Sutra series. The US DVD cover for what’s been retitled Betrayed by Passion features a provocatively posed actress who doesn’t appear in the movie. While Irons is strongly reminiscent of Jeremy Irons, the two are apparently unrelated.

On Betrayed by Passion

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