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Shakespeare-Wallah (1965)

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The story of a family troupe of English actors in India. They travel around the towns and villages giving performances of Shakespearean plays. Through their travels we see the changing face... See full summary »

Director:

James Ivory

Writers:

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (story and screenplay) (as R. Prawer Jhabvala), James Ivory (story and screenplay)
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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

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

The story of a family troupe of English actors in India. They travel around the towns and villages giving performances of Shakespearean plays. Through their travels we see the changing face of India as the old is replaced by the new, Maharajas become hotel owners, sports become more important than culture and the theater is replaced by Bolliwood movies. Based on the travels of Geoffrey Kendal with his daughter Felicity Kendal. Written by Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

USA | India

Language:

English | Hindi

Release Date:

December 1965 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Shakespeare Wallah See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,378, 12 November 2017, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,650, 16 November 2017
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Felicity Kendal, who plays Lizzie and Geoffrey Kendal and Laura Liddell are also mother, father and daughter in real life, and just like in the movie they actually were a traveling Shakespeare troupe in India. Their other daughter, Jennifer Kendal, plays "Mrs. Bowen" and is the real life wife of Shashi Kooper who plays Sanju. See more »

Quotes

Bobby: [Speaking to Lizzie] And when you're young, you never think. And when you're old... you're too tired to think.
See more »

Connections

Features Conversation with James Ivory (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony No. 9
(uncredited)
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Loss of past time
11 May 2013 | by eyesourSee all my reviews

The exquisite mood captured by this masterpiece is unique in my experience of motion pictures. "Colonial rule" in India was not English, but British. The many Irish, Welsh and Scots who lived and died in India would hate to be called English. However, the dedicated husband and wife thespians are eccentrically English, of course. Their daughter, Lizzie, has never been outside India, and knows less of England than Sanju, the man she thinks she loves. The action is not set during the last days of the Raj, as reported in some reviews. Nabokov's "Lolita", which is pointedly displayed early in the film (perhaps because it is also about the seduction of one culture by another), was first published in 1955, and Indian Independence took place in 1947. Sanju drives a white Mercedes, which I wouldn't like to date, but which is very definitely post-1955. The film was made in 1965. The rise of Bollywood must have been taking place at about this time. Much of the delicate ambiance of the film is totally lost if the audience is misled into believing that India was like this before Independence. Only the ghost of the Empire lingers on in this quiet story. It is not really about a "clash" of cultures, with the violent hostility which that word implies; rather, it gently acknowledges that the old order is changing, giving place to a new. Indian potentates no longer personally strangle unwitting intruders for entering their women's quarters. I hope not, anyway. The lives of Lizzie's parents are irrevocably inter-woven with a vanished time: they will die in India. Because Lizzie has no place in the new India, she has to be sent away to a home she doesn't know. Her Indian playboy friend cannot commit himself to marrying her.

Nevertheless, the truth is that in spite of the mockery directed against the theatre of Shakespeare by a more aggressively volatile element, very many actors on the imperial stage conceived a genuine love of India, and its high and ancient civilisation, and this affection could be recognised and reciprocated, and still is, in some parts. The love affair is, even today, not yet wholly extinct, at least at some levels. This is an infinitely more nuanced work than David Lean's rather nasty and one-dimensional interpretation of E.M.Forster's shallow "Passage to India". Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who wrote the screenplay of Shakespeare Wallah, displays a far finer spirit, greater precision and deeper humanity. Separation at any age is also a loss.


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