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Bideshi (1994)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Rani, a young British woman of Bengali heritage, recalls the fantastical stories her father used to tell her - one of them was about the day her mother married a pumpkin to outwit a prophecy. Now her father is lying dead in a hospital, having suffered a stroke.

Ajoy, Rani's father, finds himself running through a dark tunnel. He comes across a priest building a fire who is unwilling or unable to answer his questions. He is looking for a way out. As he tries one path after another he relives scenes from his past: his arrival in London, happy times with his wife and children, sad times, arguments. Each time he returns to the forest the priest is still there, building a fire and refusing to acknowledge his presence.

The hospital is filled with people who have come to pay their respects. Ajoy floats among them, listening to their conversations. While some cruelly gossip about a family scandal - his beloved daughter Rani is pregnant by her black partner - an old friend, Patel, weeps at the prospect of Ajoy's death.

Rani's pregnancy causes a deep rift between her and her father. As she visits him now in the hospital she pleads with him to recover, in return she offers the death of her baby. Ajoy draws his daughter into the forest with him. There, he refuses to accept her baby in return for his life. They are reconciled.

In the hospital, Rani screams for a doctor. In the forest, the priest finally talks to Ajoy. The priest prepares him for the after-life; a fire is part of the ceremony.

Some time later, Ajoy's spirit returns to visit his family. Rani has had her baby. Ajoy is delighted and waves at the little boy who waves back. The priest and Ajoy dance away to the other life.