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A Passage to India (1984)

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Cultural mistrust and false accusations doom a friendship in British colonial India between an Indian doctor, an Englishwoman engaged to marry a city magistrate, and an English educator.



(by), (based on the novel by) | 2 more credits »
Won 2 Oscars. Another 19 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Antonia Pemberton ...
Mrs. Turton
Mrs. Callendar


It's the early 1920s. Britons Adela Quested and her probable future mother-in-law Mrs. Moore have just arrived in Chandrapore in British India to visit Adela's unofficial betrothed, Ronny Heaslop, who works there as the city's magistrate. Adela and Mrs. Moore, who long for "an adventure" in experiencing all India has to offer, are dismayed to learn upon their arrival that the ruling British do not socialize let alone associate with the native population, such people as the Turtons - Mr. Turton being Ronny's superior - who openly thumb their noses at the idea in their belief that the Indians are an inferior peoples. They are further dismayed to see that Ronny adheres to that custom in not wanting to jeopardize his career. At the local white only club, Adela and Mrs. Moore find a like-minded Brit in the form of Richard Fielding, the school master at government college, he who offers to organize a small but truly inclusive social gathering with some natives for them, unlike the large ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


David Lean, the Director of "Doctor Zhivago", "Lawrence of Arabia" and "The Bridge on the River Kwai", invites you on . . .[A Passage to India]


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Parents Guide:







Release Date:

1 February 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pasaje a la India  »


Box Office


$16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$84,580, 16 December 1984, Limited Release

Gross USA:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Peggy Ashcroft's favorite scene was when she got to ride an elephant. See more »


In the opening scene, the stamping officer in the Bombay port says that "Mrs Moore returns on the RawaIpindi". In those days and even now, ships dock at Bombay and then there are trains to other parts of India, Bihar in this case. It is improbable that Mrs Moore will get off the ship in Peshawar (in today's Pakistan) and travel to Chandrapore, Bihar via Rawalpindi (again in Pakistan) by train. Not sure, if EM Forster's book also carries this statement. See more »


Professor Godbhole: Nothing you do will change the outcome.
Richard Fielding: So "Do nothing!" Is that your philosophy?
Professor Godbhole: My philosophy is you can do what you like... but the outcome will be the same.
See more »


Referenced in High Hopes: A Passage to India (2008) See more »


Tea For Two
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User Reviews

There'll Always Be a Raj-------NOT
25 October 2006 | by See all my reviews

A Passage Through India tells a story about the radicalization of a native Indian who happens to be a Moslem. This was in the days before the idea of a separate Pakistan took hold in the independence movement.

Victor Bannerjee plays Dr. Aziz Ahmed and as you see by his title he's a professional man. But he's still looked down upon by most of the British who are ruling India. He's befriended by Peggy Ashcroft who is visiting India with her daughter-in-law to be, Judy Davis. Peggy's son is a magistrate. Bannerjee is also friends with James Fox who is an administrator at a local college.

He's warned against fraternizing with the British by his friends and family, but Bannerjee goes on a picnic with Ashcroft and Davis and Davis has a horrifying experience in the historic caves at Marabar. It's only her claustrophobia acting up, but Bannerjee winds up accused of rape. And his trial becomes a cause celebre for the Congress Party. Note that Bannerjee has two defense attorneys, a Moslem and a Hindu.

E.M. Forster who wrote A Passage to India brought two elements of his background to the writing of this novel. He served as a private secretary to a local maharajah so he knew the customs of India as well as the political scene. Most in the United Kingdom wanted to see India free after World War I. A few very powerful folks like Winston Churchill and some influential press lords, most prominently Lord Beaverbrook did not. There opposition kept India a British colony until after another World War.

Secondly Forster was a closeted gay man. His homosexuality was not publicly revealed, he wasn't 'outted' until after he died in 1970. One of his relationships was with a Moslem Indian who died at a young age. He's the model for Dr. Aziz. The India Forster writes about is not Rudyard Kipling's India. A place where the native population is made to feel like outsiders. Forster identified with them in a way Kipling could never conceive.

Peggy Ashcroft won a Best Supporting Actress Award for her role as the kindly Mrs. Moore. I've got a sneaking suspicion that Forster modeled her character on his own mother who lived with him until she died in 1945. Judy Davis got a nomination for Best Actress and A Passage to India was nominated in a whole bunch of technical categories.

A Passage to India is a disturbing look at a bygone era in a place where you can see a lot of the problems we face today being nurtured.

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