Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977) - Hindi Movie

Another “Satyajit Ray” classic which made us laugh big time and was a great lesson in History. With that fundoo casting starting from Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Amjad Khan, Richard Attenbrough, Tom Alter, Victor Banerjee in damn good characters with Shabana Azmi, Farida Jalal and Farookh Sheikh in small roles, narrated by none other than Big B himself. It was a fantastic watch after so many years – I had hardly any memory of this one in mind other than two passionate chess players – playing the game day in day out. That’s what they do – come what may – not a day that they wont play the game – revolution or no revolution – even while the country gets captured by East India Company – they look out for a new place to play their game since their respective wives ban them from playing the game in their havelis. Life goes through such an important phase yet their games continue at the same pace – even when they run out of space to play the game – it’s heartening to see their passion for the same. One hilarious take this one was – not to be missed by classic movie lovers at any cost. I guess this one is the only Hindi movie Ray made and what a great one it is.

The Movie: Story of two passionate chess players of Indian Kingdom Awadh – whose capital is Lucknow and their Nawab Vajid Ali Shah – who is being over thrown by East India Company. It is definitely debatable – if it’s the story of two chess players or the nawab – but whatever it is – indeed it’s a great movie with fantastic comic timing and an important lesson in history of the nation India as what went wrong and what they should have done instead to save it from the clutches of British. Mirza Sajjad Ali (Sanjeev Kumar) and Mir Roshan Ali (Saeed Jaffrey) are inseparable friends – who do nothing all day but play chess. Their Nawab Valid Ali Shah (Amjad Khan in a lovable role) is going through a tough phase of his life as he is being over thrown by British yet he is too busy with his 400 concubines and 30 temporary wives and all. He is an Artist and Poet busy in music and entertainment more than he is in command of his army and loyal ministers. More than that the story of Sajjad Ali and Roshan Ali is too good to be true. Its hilarious to see their passion for the game – they are hardly ever there for their families. Even when they are thrown out by Sajjad Ali’s wife – they end up going to the others house to pass on their day playing chess. When even that, goes out of their hands – they end up going to a remote village to play chess – while the country goes out of Nawab’s hand – they are still busy playing their game.

Scenes with Amjad Khan as Nawab are too good – I never knew he was such a good actor – even his prime minister played by Victor Banerjee was too good in a short role. Richard Attenbrough as General James Outram is too good and Tom Alter as Capt. Weston (Outram's aide de camp) is fantastic – the way they communicate in English and Hindi is too good. One of the best part of the movie is its narration done by Amitabh Bachchan – I read on wiki that Satyajit Ray was too impressed by him but couldn’t find a role doing justice with him hence end up taking him as a narrator and I guess it works big time in the movie. It was quite a surprise for us to see rather hear him narrate the story. It’s a damn good watch for all Satyajit Ray fans – we enjoyed it thoroughly.

No comments: