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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.

Director:

David Lean

Writers:

E.M. Forster (by), E.M. Forster (based on the novel by) | 2 more credits »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 20 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Judy Davis ... Adela
Victor Banerjee ... Aziz
Peggy Ashcroft ... Mrs. Moore
James Fox ... Fielding
Alec Guinness ... Godbole
Nigel Havers ... Ronny
Richard Wilson ... Turton
Antonia Pemberton Antonia Pemberton ... Mrs. Turton
Michael Culver ... McBryde
Art Malik ... Ali
Saeed Jaffrey ... Hamidullah
Clive Swift ... Major Callendar
Ann Firbank ... Mrs. Callendar
Roshan Seth ... Amritrao
Sandra Hotz ... Stella
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Storyline

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

Plot Keywords:

india | doctor | cave | 1920s | small town | See All (72) »

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Hindi

Release Date:

1 February 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pasaje a la India See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$84,580, 16 December 1984, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$27,187,653
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

The relationship between David Lean and Alec Guinness deteriorated during the making of the movie. The final straw came for Guinness when he found out that a large chunk of his scenes had been left on the cutting floor by Lean. Neither man ever met or spoke to the other again. See more »

Goofs

The visiting British women, in addition to a band, are treated to reed instruments which resemble (South Indian) naadaswarams and not local Bihari music, though everybody including Fielding speaks Hindi and Urdu. When Dr Aziz is being felicitated for his freedom, the music is in Hindu Marathi - "Govinda Ala re," a music reserved only during Janmashtami ( Lord Krishnas' birth) in Maharashtra, whereas the audience is predominantly Moslem. See more »

Quotes

Ali: How is Britain justified in holding India?
Dr. Aziz H. Ahmed: Unfair political question!
Richard Fielding: No, no! Well, personally, I'm here because I need a job.
Ali: Qualified Indians also need jobs!
Richard Fielding: I got here first.
[laughter]
Richard Fielding: Well, I like it here and that's my excuse.
Advocate Hamidullah: And those Englishmen who do not like it here?
Richard Fielding: Chuck 'em out.
[laughter]
[...]
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

God Save the King
(uncredited)
Traditional
Arranged by John Dalby
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
a disappointment
24 March 2003 | by jg1972See all my reviews

David Lean has made some of the best films of all time (viz. "Dr. Zhivago" and "Lawrence of Arabia"), and E. M. Forster is a delightful writer (viz. "Howards End" and "Room with a View"). This film, however, turns out to be a disappointment. While some other reviewers have loved it, I suspect that they have not read the novel. Moreover, as a pure story, it does not match up to Lean's earlier work.

The very essence of the story is the question, can Indians and Britons be friends? That is the heart of the novel, as Dr. Aziz and Mr. Fielding struggle to be friends as their societies conflict and they offend each other through misunderstandings. This is not really shown in the film. In fact, in some ways, the chief Anglo-Indian relationship in the film is a latent love between Dr. Aziz and Miss Quested. Lean leads us to believe that they secretly long for each other, but society (and they themselves) will not allow such a relationship. Additionally, Lean has changed much of the focus from an Indian story (about Dr. Aziz and his search for a place in colonial society) to a British one (about the place of British colonials in an alien place). This is reinforced by the invented opening scene of the movie, which is not in the novel.

I watched this film with a friend who had not read the novel, and she had a hard time following many of the plot twists.

Considering the novel as the premise, this is not an epic tale, and it was not suited for Lean's grand style. The more intimate style of Merchant-Ivory would have been appropriate here. Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" and Pasternak's "Dr. Zhivago" were epic novels needing broad strokes to appear on screen. Forster's novel mixed subtle satire with poignant portrayal of the dilemma's facing a Western-educated Indian under the British Raj. Most of that is lost in this film.


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