Wazed Ali Shah is the ruler of one of the last independent kingdoms of India. The British, intent on controlling this rich country, have sent general Outram on a secret mission to clear the way for an annexation. While pressure is mounting amidst intrigue and political manoeuvres, Ali Shah composes poems and listens to music, secluded in his palace. The court is of no help, as exemplified by nobles Mir and Mirza, who, ignoring the situation of their country and all their duties towards their families, spend their days playing endless parties of chess.
Ray's unique gift,
This movie is a precious gem. I have not seen anything like it and only a rare amount of movies dare to be as different. One cannot expect any less from Satyajit Ray, one of India's greatest filmmakers. Shatranj ke Khiladi is a satirical comedy that stars the best actors delivering the finest performances. Amjad Khan and Saeed Jaffrey definitely did their best for this movie. Sanjeev Kumar and Shabana Azmi are excellent as always. Richard Attenborough and Victor Banerjee do very well with their small roles. I was also surprised to see Farida Jalal in a negative comic role as an unfaithful wife. Ray also applies his artistic talents in set designs as you'll see some beautiful paintings. Background music is limited but used effectively. The movie was shot brilliantly where it is quite evident that the director has given attention to very little detail. There is one scene where Sanjeev Kumar goes to his room to see his wife. Saeed Jaffrey is waiting for him. We soon see a scene where Jaffrey goes to check on Sanjeev then when he returns...we see a hand changing the position on the chess board. This is just one of the finest example of excellent direction, among the many you'll witness in this classic masterpiece. The events of the 19th century are portrayed very poetically. While some may say that the pace is slow, it did not bore me one bit and there was always something happening. This, indeed, is a fine piece of film-making. I suggest you go and watch it.
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|Munshi Premchand||story (as Premchand)|
|Javed Siddiqui||dialogue (as Javed Siddiqi)|
Mirza Sajjad Ali
Mir Roshan Ali
Khurshid, Mirza's wife
Nafisa, Mir's wife
Prime Minister (as Victor Bannerji)
Aqueel (as Farooque Shaikh)
Capt. Weston (Outram's aide de camp)
Hirya, Khurshid's maid
Abbajani (as Budho Advani)