indian cinema heritage foundation

Heat and Dust (1983)

  • Release Date1983
  • GenreRomance
  • FormatColor
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Run Time133 min

Anne (Julie Christie), a modern young English woman is intrigued by the mysterious and scandalous past of her great aunt, Olivia (Greta Scacchi), who as a young bride in the 1920s joins her handsome husband Douglas (Christopher Cazenove) at his post India. Olivia tries to fit into the rigid life style of the Indian civil service - "The Heaven Born" as they were called - but finds she's drawn inexorably in the into the romantic and luxurious enchantment of an India where power, violence, and passion overshadow the facade of British ruling class respectability. Her seduction is completed by the charming and outrageous Prince of the State, The Nawab (Shashi Kapoor), to whom she eventually abandons herself.

Anne explores all available documents and reminisces with the Nawab's best friend, Harry (Nickolas Grace), now a very old man, and then journeys to India - much different today than in the days of the Raj, yet she finds strange parallels between her experience and Olivia's. She, too, is seduced by India and even manages to cope better than an intense hippie, '60s throwback Chid (Charles McCaughan) who is forced to give up his rigorous Hindu endeavours for the comfort and safety of home. Anne's enchantment leads her, too, into a love affair. Inder Lal (Zakir Hussain) is the head of the family she stays with, and he consummates her total commitment to India. Inevitably she traces Olivia's steps into the hills submitting to the same timeless bewitchment.

[From the official press booklet]