1-World Festival of Foreign Films
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"The Chess Players / Shatranj Ke Khiladi"
1977
Directed by Satyajit Ray

Ray's so-called Hindi debut film (it is actually in Urdu with English), although featuring major Hindi stars, was refused a commercial release by local distributors because of Ray's Calcutta art-house reputation. This is a colorful period drama about colonialism and indigenous culture set in 1856 at the court of Wajid Ali Shah in Lucknow. Beginning with an animated cartoon about the British annexation policy (featuring the voice of Amitabh Bachchan), this film features two narratives: the first is based on Premchand's short story about two hookah-smoking zamindars playing interminable games of chess; the second dramatizes the conflict between Wajid and General Charles Outram. Stars Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Amjad Khan, Richard Attenborough and Shabana Azmi. Urdu with English subtitles.


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