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The Dance of Shiva (1998)

In the trenches of the Western Front in 1915, a British army chaplain is forced to question his faith as he witnesses hundreds of Hindu soldiers risking their lives daily for the Empire.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Sgt. Bakshi
... Col. Evans
... Gen. Willis
... Capt. Greville
... Lt. Davis
Clare Burt ... Sister
Malcolm Ridley ... Lt. Frewer
Wayne Cater ... Cpl. Wright
Patrick Cash ... British Gunner
Richard Christopher ... Sgt. Allen
... Gunner 1
... Adjutant
Nayesh Radia ... Pvt. Velu
Robin Sebastian ... Capt. Oliver
... Lieutenant Reichmann
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In the trenches of the Western Front in 1915, a British army chaplain is forced to question his faith as he witnesses hundreds of Hindu soldiers risking their lives daily for the Empire.

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11 November 1998 (UK)  »

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User Reviews

 
Glad to see Commonwealth troops getting some credits
18 December 2006 | by See all my reviews

Besides being a good foreign film (from an American point of view), I'm glad to see the movie industry given some recognition to the hundreds of thousands of Commonwealth troops that served in both WWI and WWII.

WWII is by far the most media covered armed conflict of all time, due to both its scope, its dramatic juxtaposition of perceived good vs. evil, and its coincidence with the advent of electronic mass media. Despite this, almost all WWII coverage deals exclusively with American, British, and Russian troops from an Allied perspective, and German and Japanese troops from an Axis perspective. Even WWI coverage deals primarily with British, French, and somewhat with Russian troops from an Allied perspective and with German/Austro-Hungarian (primarily Austrian in the latter case) from the Central Powers perspective.

Because of that perspective, most moviegoers who get their history from movies, televisions, and fictional literature aren't aware of the sacrifices of the other participants in both of those conflicts. Probably the most overlooked in terms of recognition relative to the level of involvement are the British Commonwealth soldiers from places like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and India.

For example, how many people who watch WWI/II movies/TV today know that there is an actual large stone monument to Army of India soldiers in Neuve-Chapelle, France? Or how many people today (outside of New Zealand and Australia) know what ANZAC Day is, or what it means? Or how many people who know the greatest flying Ace of WWI, Baron Manfred von Richtofen (A.K.A., "The Red Baron"), and who know that he was shot down, know that he was shot down by a Canadian pilot named Roy Brown? In fact, there is even a well supported historical theory that makes a very sound scientifically backed argument that The Red Baron was not killed by Roy Brown, as the official report states, but was killed by a single round from a ground-mounted Vickers Machine Gun operated by...you guessed it, by a New Zealander! Either way, Richtofen was killed by a Commonwealth soldier! How many people today who watched Band of Brothers know the role that Indian units played in the Monte Casino campaign? How many people who are fond of quoting Winston Churchill today know the mass sacrifice that Kiwis and Aussies made a Gallipoli, for which Churchill was forced to resign from the post of Lord of the Admiralty? How many fans of The English Patient actually wondered why there was an Indian Sikh as one of the supporting actors? Or why his love interest was a Canadian nurse? This movie does a good job of highlighting just one of groups of unsung heroes, namely Indian troops fighting on the Western Front in France in 1915. I won't spoil anything, but this movie does highlight an overlooked and important part of the history of WWI.

Aside from the very important spotlight that this movie places on the overlooked hereos of yester-year, the movie itself is entertaining in a way that makes the viewer think a little bit about the assumptions that he/she may have. The acting is solid from a bunch of not extremely well known actors (Paul McGann is great, but he's not a household name in America anyway), and it's a story line that's solid given that it's not a plot-driven situation that's being examined, but more of a slice-of-life of those Indian soldiers in Europe in 1915.

I would definitely recommend this movie for both the casual and serious WWI armchair historian, as well as anyone who is interested in watch a non-action war movie that provides a different perspective on the Western Front.

WWI is somehow forgotten to an extent by the current generations, and that is a shame because of the sacrifice of so many whose lives (and deaths) ultimately shaped the world in which we're living today in a geographical and political sense. Even WWII was derived from WWI directly, and the borders, politics, style of warfare, and many other aspects of how we live today were defined not by WWII, but rather by WWI. This move provides a glimpse in to what the Western Front was like for some of those chaps who helped define our modern world today almost 100 years ago, but who have been all but forgotten by history in the mean time.


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