CIFF47: PSQ March 22 – April 1, 2023 | Streams April 2 – April 9, 2023

(Shatranj Ke Khiladi)

Year: 1977
Country: India
Run Time: 127 minutes


THE CHESS PLAYERS is Satyajit Ray's first historical film and his first to be filmed in English (as well as Hindi). Ray employs elegant wit and irony in the satire underlying his retrospection of a northern Indian province's loss of independence in 1856. Focusing on an unending chess game as a metaphor for the socio-political battlefield of the times, Ray shifts between the settings of the King's Palace on Oudh and the office of the East India Company's British resident. The King (Amjad Khan) is more inspired to write poetry and music than he is to govern his state. All the better for the British resident (Richard Attenborough) to make his move to secure the territory for British rule. Paralleling these historical events, the on-going chess game between Mirza (Sanjeev Kumar) and Mir (Saeed Jaffrey) provides the film with a comic balance. The chess players are rich aristocrats whose obsessive passion for the game makes them oblivious to all else; they ignore both the desires of their wives and the exigencies of their country. Lavish costumes and sets complement Ray's characters, seen as pawns, but with a loving eye.

"One admires the costumes, the perfectly picked-up cues, the elegance of the principals, the complicated footwork, the manner in which an entire civilization has been encapsulated in a few particular gestures." - Vincent Canby, New York Times

Satyajit Ray (from a story by Munshi Premchand)

Suresh Jindal

Satyajit Ray and Soumendu Roy

Dulal Dutta

Principal Cast
Richard Attenborough, Amjad Khan, Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey

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