Sunday, April 18, 2010

Shakespeare Wallah (1965)

After 45 years, Indian films still are the same:
Sanju: Don't you get tired of your films?
Always the same-
singing, dancing, tears, love.
Manjula: I have played many great dramatic roles in my time.

Every scene where she is acting is just her dancing and singing to contrast with her statement.

While the original Shakespearean actors lives the movie is based on did not like the portrayal of like a life wasted, the movie was much along the lines of other films where certain people and groups do not transfer to the new society well and still hang on to old dreams and structures that may not in fact exist. The film that comes to mind first is Good Bye Lenin! The interviews actually mention that the original idea for the movie was for an India troop of actors to go around doing the plays but then it was considered that no Indian actor of the quality to perform Shakespearean plays would agree to behave like gypsies going from place to place to perform. Thus the diary of the mother of the Shakespearean troop was used to create the screenplay.

Lizzie (Felicity Kendal) is an actress in a Shakespearean theater troupe that has seen better days. The troupe tours India to dwindling crowds who are less interested in all things British in the wake of Indian independence. When she has an affair with the Indian playboy Sanju (Shashi Kapoor), Lizzie feels the wrath of her disapproving father Tony (Geoffrey Kendal) and her mother Carla (Laura Liddell). Madhur Jaffrey plays the role of the Indian actress Manjula in this romantic drama with musical score from Satyajit Ray. ~ Dan Pavlides, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 122 mins
Shakespeare Wallah (1965)

The extras included interviews with Felicity Kendal {Lizzie}, James Ivory with an unindentified Indian gentleman, and Shashi Kapoor{Sanju}. They start out discussing what "wallah" means and each of the three have a different definition. Felicity says it is masculine and doing with a trade as in a tradesman. But James says it was "The one who is involved with or does something in depth." They also talk about coming off the production of the movie "The Householder". I remember the film but did not do a review of it at the time.

While Lizzie is not beautiful she does come across as quite appealing and understandable how even the playboy was enamored by her charm. Instead of the Indian actress that acted more like a princess, Lizzie was more humble and willing to explore the world. It obviously was made for a British audience and had trouble getting released in the USA. There was a lot of kissing and even a intimate scene with the couple in bed, both of which censors in India would have not given it approval to see in India.

The extras also included a 45 minute documentary about "The Delhi Way" by the same director as the film-James Ivory. It also includes an interview with him about the film. Interesting little documentary about the history of Delhi and how it has expanded into the desert areas and built upon itself in the same process.

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