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The Chess Players
(Shatranj ke Khiladi)

Screening on Film
Directed by Satyajit Ray.
With Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Richard Attenborough.
India, 1977, 35mm, color, 129 min.
English/Urdu with English subtitles.

In Ray’s first big-budget film for which he employed not only some of the major stars of the Bollywood scene (Kumar, Jaffrey) but also notable western actors (Attenborough), two aristocrats obsessed with chess meet daily for a match while remaining oblivious to the upheaval and turmoil around them. Set in Lucknow circa 1856, the story of the chess players is paralleled by that of a monarch who ignores the impending threat of British territorial expansion so that he may engage in his own creative pursuits. Despite the film’s very serious historical context, Ray presents it with a delicate, humorous touch.

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Humanist Masterworks:
The Films of Satyajit Ray

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Devour the Land: Cinema, landscape, history.