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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.


Jamie Payne


Joseph Miller


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sanjeev Bhaskar ... Sgt. Bakshi
Kenneth Branagh ... Col. Evans
Julian Glover ... Gen. Willis
Paul McGann ... Capt. Greville
Samuel West ... Lt. Davis
Clare Burt Clare Burt ... Sister
Malcolm Ridley Malcolm Ridley ... Lt. Frewer
Wayne Cater Wayne Cater ... Cpl. Wright
Patrick Cash Patrick Cash ... British Gunner
Richard Christopher Richard Christopher ... Sgt. Allen
Stephan Erdman ... Gunner 1
Marshall Griffin ... Adjutant
Nayesh Radia Nayesh Radia ... Pvt. Velu
Robin Sebastian Robin Sebastian ... Capt. Oliver
Matthew Wolf ... Lieutenant Reichmann


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.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Action | War | Drama







Release Date:

11 November 1998 (UK) See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Epiphany Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR


See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Dance of Shiva--a Hornblower-centric Review
8 July 2004 | by surreyhillSee all my reviews

Here's the great thing about Dance of Shiva, now that I've watched it. If you start painting all your fingernails and toenails during the opening sequences, they will be completely dry when the movie ends. The movie ends neither too soon, which would leave them still tacky when you got up to turn it off, nor does it run long enough to disqualify it as a good excuse to sit down and paint your nails and let them dry thoroughly before starting in on any other projects.

Briefly, because there's really no other way to discuss it, this short film attempts to tell something about the heroism shown by a troop of Bengal Lancers under British command during WWI, and by Bengal, I mean they are Bengali, from India. Paul McGann plays a chaplain who is trying to reconcile his mission as a promoter of the Christian faith with the very laudable goal of trying to respect the Hindu religious beliefs and philosophy which unify his Bengal unit and are the source of their courage and strength. Shiva dances the dance of life and death, entertwined, you see, so one feeds upon the other, and there is no reason to be afraid of either. The British don't see it quite the same way, of course, and so Sam West eventually shows up in the arrogant twit Aryan bigot role to throw up on his boots when confronted with the grim realities of trench warfare. But really, there's not any actual plot--as such.

Samuel West has hardly any lines in this movie, which is sort of a crime when you consider the folly of hiring one of the most golden-throated actors in all of England to be in your short flick, and then not giving him much more to say other than..."Ooof....urp.....glgugggggghhhrrggg....<splat>". Not cool. However, those of you who felt that his syphilitic seizures in "The Ripper" compared unfavorably to Jamie Bamber's epileptic fits in the role of Horatio Hornblower's "Archie Kennedy" (which they did) will be greatly reassured by the the realistic portrayal of shivering and puking and attempting to keep from puking in Shiva. I suppose it's simply a matter of matching the sudden-onset, uncontrollable, publicly-disturbing, involuntary manifestation of a medical problem to the actor. In Mr. West's case, the barfing and shivering thing was really working well for him.

Horatio Hornblower's Faithful Lt. Bush, Paul McGann, looks great in a priestly collar, but less well in a WWI-era helmet than he does in a bicorn. The timbre of his husky voice is mostly wasted, but he has the opportunity to display that long, beautiful, austere face in a variety of concerned and thoughtful moments of observation, reflection, and compassion. Screencappers, start your engines.

There's a neat little association here for the Potter movie fans. Branagh (bearded) has a few lines in the beginning, which he delivers with characteristic gusto, and then later on, a guy named Julian Glover shows up. Glover was the voice of Aragog the giant spider in Chamber of Secrets, and of course, Branagh was Gilderoy Lockhart.

La, what strange bedfellows these obscure British art-house flicks make.

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