British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Shakespeare Wallah

Synopsis
Feature film. An English troupe of actors tour post-Raj India staging performances of Shakespeare to dwindling audiences as British dominance of, and interest in, British culture fades. The film is an ironic examination and comment on British (and Shakespeare) cultural assumptions ruefully acknowledging ‘the victory of the motion picture over the theatre’. There are many sequences from the plays, selected to form commentary on the action. Plays featured are Antony and Cleopatra (II ii, IV v), Hamlet (II iv, IV v), Othello (V ii) Romeo and Juliet (II vi) and Twelfth Night (II iv).
Language
English
Country
India
Medium
Film
Technical information
Black-and-white / Sound
Year of release
1965
Duration
124 mins

Credits

Director
James Ivory
Producer
Ismail Merchant
Cinematographer
Subrata Mitra
Screenplay
James Ivory; Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Music
Satyajit Ray
Cast
Partap SharmaRomeo
Pincho KapoorClaudius
Laura LiddellGertrude
J.D. TytlerPolonius
Prayag RaajFeste
Felicity KendalLizzie Buckingham
Felicity KendalMaria
Geoffrey KendalTony Buckingham
Laura LiddellCarla Buckingham
Madhur JaffreyManjula
Partap SharmaPhilo
Partap SharmaLaertes
Shashi KapoorSanju
Utpal DuttThe Maharajah

Additional Details

Production type
Fiction Films
Plays
Antony and Cleopatra; Hamlet; Othello; Romeo and Juliet; Twelfth Night
Subjects
Drama
Keywords
India; Raj; Shakespeare, William (1564-1616); theatre companies; Colonialism; Travelling players

Notes

Notes
Estimated budget: $80,000
General
Geoffrey Kendal and Laura Liddell ran a genuine theatrical troupe who toured India, the Shakespeareana Company, whose nature, if not their precise experience, formed the basis of the film. The Shakespearian sequences in the film were directed by the Kendals.
Awards
Berlin Film Festival 1965 - Silver Bear for Best Actress to Madhur Jaffrey.
Reviews
Wayne, Valerie ‘Shakespeare Wallah and Cultural Specularity’ in Boose, Lynda E. & Richard Burt (eds). Shakespeare the Movie: Popularizing the Plays on Film, TV and Video (London: Routledge, 1977). pp 95-102.

Production Company

Name

Merchant Ivory Productions

Distributor

Name

Odyssey Video

Phone
0208 216 6993
Fax
0208 216 6652
Address
Unit 1
Dundee Way
Enfield
Middlesex
EN3 7SX

Distributor (DVD)

Name

BFI Distribution

Email
bookings.films@bfi.org.uk
Web
http://www.bfi.org.uk/distribution External site opens in new window
Phone
020 7957 8938/8935
Address
21 Stephen Street
London
W1P 2LN
Notes
The British Film Institute is a specialist non-theatric rental distributor of international fiction and documentary films on 16mm and 35mm film, as well as VHS and DVD video. The holdings are so vast that only those titles available on DVD and HD Digital are listed in full on the website, so it is worth enquiring about specific titles that might only be available for hire in other formats. The BFI has partnered with on-line platforms such as lovefilm and blinkbox to deliver a selection of films to buy or rent in digital format, and others are streamed free of charge on the BFI’s YouTube channel or as dowloadable clips on the Creative Archive section of the BFI’s own website.

Distributor (Hire)

Name

BFI Film Bookings Unit

Email
bookings.films@bfi.org.uk
Web
http://www.bfi.org.uk/about-bfi/help-faq/film-bookings External site opens in new window
Phone
020 7957 8938 / 8935
Address
21 Stephen Street
London
W1T 1LN

Distributor (Sale)

Name

Retail outlets

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