Elegiac and atmospheric, Shakespeare Wallah put Merchant Ivory Productions on the international movie map. The film was inspired by in the real-life adventures of Ms. Kendal’s family as a traveling theater group in India during the final days of English colonial rule.
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A very slight, very early Merchant Ivory film, Shakespeare Wallah is really more of a character study than the usual lush, picturesque films Merchant Ivory would later produce. That's not a bad thing, either. Felicity Kendal, in her first role, is extraordinary, full of emotion and charm. Just, the story and the technicalities are rough. But the actors are good enough to save it.
A good story about decay and finding away to to turn your way around. An actress choosing between staying in India or going to England, a film actor choosing between fame on film & true happiness on stage, a troupe choosing between accepting people masses not liking shakespeare anymore or returning home with a FAILURE sign on 'em. Beautiful cinematography, which makes it quite vivid.
Confronting the essential choice between a life spent in pursuit of Beauty and Truth, and a life content consumed in domestic comforts. Beautifully directed by Sir James Ivory (each shot is elegantly framed), well-acted (supporting cast does particularly well), sonically excellent (composed by the great Satyajit Ray) and written without any hint of superfluity; a very good film.
Merchant Ivory's second film, beautifully scored by Satyajit Ray, is one of the jewels in their crown of achievements. The Kendal family draw on their own experiences to portray a family of travelling players bringing Shakespeare to the masses. The tone is mournful and elegiac throughout as their fortunes in post-Raj India are on a downward trend with the locals now entranced by movies instead of theatre. A delight..