Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Shakespeare-Wallah 1965 English

The merchant ivory site says that it is a film of "unexpected juxtapositions". It is a movie of unexpected juxtapositions, and it starts right from the name, Shakespeare wallah. Shakespeare an english literary giant and wallah a casual hindi word used to associate a person with something, usually with sellers. Like Panwallah, teawallah etc to denoted what that person who is dealing with tea or pan.Here it is Shakespeare wallah, the people who are associated with Shakespeare plays or you can think them as people who are trying to sell Shakespeare to a crowd which is not interested in buying it anymore.

Shakespeare wallah is the story of an english drama troupe, which travels around india staging Shakespearean plays at various places. The story takes place in post independent india, where the taste of the people have changed.The new medium of cinema and that to in the regional language has taken over the charm for Shakespearean plays.

The drama troupe lead by Mr. Tony Buckingham(Geoffrey Kendal), also has his wife Mrs. Carla Buckingham(Laura Liddell) and daughter Lizzie Buckingham(Felicity Kendal).Tony is finding it hard to deal with the fastly changing india which is cutting of its British links, but he loves the country and its audience so much that he does not want to go back to england. His daughter lizzie is in love with a rich indian playboy Sanju (Shashi kapoor), who already has a relationship with an indian actress Manjula (Madhur Jaffrey).The buckinghams are worried about the future of their daughter in free india.what happens to lizzie is the rest of the movie.

This is a very sublime and interesting movie.The movie's has this clever screenplay which brings the "unexpected juxtapositions" at so many places.For lizzie the indian cinema which is affecting her and her family professionally affects her personally also, through the indian actress manjula who is in love with her boy friend.The view of Shakespearean plays as obsolete and things of the past by the schools and other institution in india, in a sense also means the presence of that anglo indian family as also a thing of past, obsolete and unimportant. They are no longer needed in free india.

This again is shown in the meeting of the Buckingham's with a maharaja(utpal dutt), who is coming to terms with the free india, where the importance of the kings have been reduced and they have been made insignificant. A forgotten maharaja watches the Shakespearean play done by a forgotten anglo indian family.

There is a meeting scene before the play,and the whole scene is greatly done.The king and the players have dinner together and the king talks about how insignificant his position has become.He talks about how shakespeare has written about the kings, the quotes from Henry IV.
"Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown".
he goes on to talk about the glory days of his father and how half of his palace is turned into office and his plans of making part of the remaining into a hotel.

For which Tony & carla Buckingham quote from Richard II
Let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings:
How some have been deposed; some slain in war;
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;

and tells that Mr.buckingham should adjust with the not so big stage provided by him. Mr.buckingham replies that he is used to making adjustment with the stage provided to him. The king says

"sooner or later we must all have to come to terms with reality. We are all forced to makes cuts in the text written for us by destiny".

Two people who's destiny has been changed in post independent india.

utapl dutt

After the play when the buckingham's are on the road their car breaks down and they meet a guy who shows tricks with monkey’s. They talk with him and he says, he is not doing to well and that the people don’t care for his art any more. They are able to relate to him.

There are lot of scenes where the shakspearean plays are cleverly used with the circumstances of the movie. Credit to Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and the merchant ivory team as whole.

Geoffrey and Lizzie

The movie is supposedly an inspiration from the experiences of the kendal family who had their own drama troupe named Shakespeareana and did exactly what the buckingham's did. Travel around india and stage shakespearean plays.The troupe included their two daughters jeniffer and felicity also.

Shakespeareana 1954

The movie was well acted by kendals, especially geoffrey kendal. He is awesome as the stage actor or the worried troupe lead, he is simply superb. Felicity has also did her part well.

Felicity and shashi

Cast and credits:
Shashi Kapoor .... Sanju
Felicity Kendal .... Lizzie Buckingham
Geoffrey Kendal .... Mr. Tony Buckingham
Laura Liddell .... Mrs. Carla Buckingham
Madhur Jaffrey .... Manjula
Utpal Dutt .... Maharaja
Praveen Paul .... Didi
Prayag Raj .... Sharmaji (as Prayag Raaj)
Pinchoo Kapoor .... Guptaji
Jim D. Tytler .... Bobby (as Jim Tytler)
Hamid Sayani .... Headmaster's Brother
Marcus Murch .... Dandy in 'The Critic'
Pratap Sharma .... Aslam

Music is by sathyajit ray.You can feel his presence on the backgrounds for the various plays.

The movie shows an young shashi kapoor and jeniffer kendal.

Cinematography is by by Subrata Mitra, the satyajit ray regular.

Madhur Jaffrey won the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival for her performance, and one of the greatest names of Indian cinema, director Satyajit Ray, provides the film's musical score.

#)Madhur Jaffrey is the wife of saeed jaffrey and the co-director of Ismail merchants Cotton Mary.

#)Shakespeare wallah by the merchant ivory team, was there first international hit.

#)This movie launched the carrier of felicity kendal in UK.


hmm..interestin series on merchant ivory...how about The Householder
haven't seen it yet :(.But it is in the to be seen list though.
i remember sashi kapoor (a big movie family) and mumtaz :-)) that was a looooong time ago!
Nice post on the old movie.
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