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Shakespeare Wallah

A group of travelling players attempt to keep Shakespeare alive in the last days of British India.

Image from Shakespeare Wallah

India 1965
Dir James Ivory
With Felicity Kendal, Shashi Kapoor
Certificate PG
A BFI release

Perhaps the most accurate account ever made of British India in its death-throes, Shakespeare Wallah (newly restored) remains a firm favourite in the Merchant-Ivory canon. Their second film with writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, its portrait of a group of travelling players trying to keep Shakespeare alive in the sticks is often superbly apt, based as it is on the experiences of the Kendal family who play in the film. Shot by Subrata Mitra, Satyajit Ray’s cameraman, and equipped with a score by Ray himself, the cast includes Shashi Kapoor and Felicity Kendal as star-crossed lovers, and Madhur Jaffrey doing a triumphant turn as an outrageous Indian movie queen.

Julie Pearce, Head of BFI Distribution


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