24 December 2014

Shakespeare Wallah


Shakespeare Wallah 1965
  • Director: James Ivory
  • Based on book: No
  • Cast: Shashi Kapoor, Felicity Kendal, Geoffrey Kendal, Laura Liddel, Madhur Jaffrey
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Shashi Kapoor: Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (he has been in a lot of films!)
    • Felicity Kendal: Twelfth Night
    • Madhur Jaffrey:  Flawless, Wolf
  • Why? Shakespeare
  • Seen: December 6, 2014
A troupe of Shakespearean actors are touring India in the 1960’s. Exotic? Not at all. Nor is it glamorous. They’re just trying to get by. From dinners with a minor king who remembers London nostalgically to cars breaking down out in the middle of nowhere.
It’s very slow going and, frankly, not very remarkable.
Visually it’s very pleasing at times, though, especially the Indian landscape in black and white.  The Shakespeare bits are hammy, but interesting.
The parallel story of a Bollywood star and her two-timing boyfriends who flirts with the young Ophelia is confusing.
There are similarities to Ingmar Bergman.  That’s not a compliment. I don’t like his movies.
Well! It’s picking up. We get to know the characters and we gain insight into the struggles of the theatre troupe on the skids and the rootlessness of aging colonials still homesick for England.  The conflict between the jealous macho Indian playboy and the young English (though she’s never been to England) girl who doesn’t want to give up her acting career though would if he asked her to...sadly, typical of films from the 60’s, but well done.
It’s an odd film. Not what I expected. It doesn’t move me but it’s interesting in its way.

2 ½ * of 5

PS I find that as I write this the next day, the images of the film have stayed with me and my analytical brain cells have been piqued.  I want to see it again.  And so

3 * of 5. Maybe more next time.

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