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Shakespeare Wallah [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Shashi Kapoor, Felicity Kendal, Geoffrey Kendal, Laura Liddell, Madhur Jaffrey
  • Directors: James Ivory
  • Writers: James Ivory, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
  • Producers: Ismail Merchant
  • Format: NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Nelson Entertainment
  • VHS Release Date: March 28, 1991
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6300151433
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,689 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Shakespeare Wallah. 04299576773. 1987 Embassy VHS release. 120 minutes.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 12 customer reviews
I won't go into any details, some others already have.
My life is a movie
Those words speak of the pain of someone forced to leave a work s/he loves due to realities of daily living.
Brendan Mcdonald
The exquisite mood captured by this masterpiece is unique in my experience of motion pictures.
blockhed

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Mcdonald on January 17, 2006
Format: DVD
I like to approach movies with a clean slate. I do not study my history books or movie reviews before I watch them. I depend on the movie itself to inform me, entertain me, and move me.

This movie stands out on all three fronts. Unlike many American movies that tell too much, this movie is brilliant in letting the story unfold in the gentlest, yet most emotionally charged manner. When one of the players says to Mr. Buckingham, "Sir, I have three little children. What do I tell them when I cannot send them money? Tell me what do to do, Mr. Buckingham." Those words speak of the pain of someone forced to leave a work s/he loves due to realities of daily living. One also sees the collapse of a portion of a culture due to an indifference that is inevitable yet tragic. And the final scene between Lizzie and Sanju, when Lizzie says, "I would give up anything for you. All you have to do is ask," and she is met by silence from Sanju... It speaks volumes of the experience of a young person realizing for the first time that s/he loves someone who cannot return the love in the way s/he needs it returned.

This is a very human story which also tells, not of a love/hate relationship between two cultures (British and Indian), but one of love/indifference. And sometimes that is the most powerful conflict of all.
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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful By blockhed on August 8, 2004
Format: DVD
The exquisite mood captured by this masterpiece is unique in my experience of motion pictures. The disc container description, partly repeated in the extra features section, is banal in the extreme, as well as laughably inaccurate. "Colonial rule" in India was not English, but British. The many Irish, Welsh and Scots who lived and died in India would hate to be called English. However, the dedicated husband and wife thespians are eccentrically English, of course. Their daughter, Lizzie, has never been outside India, and knows less of England than Sanju, the man she thinks she loves. The action is not set during the last days of the Raj. Nabokov's "Lolita", which is pointedly displayed early in the film (perhaps because it is also about the seduction of one culture by another), was first published in 1955, and Indian Independence took place in 1947. Sanju drives a white Mercedes, which I wouldn't like to date, but which is very definitely post-1955. The film was made in 1965. The rise of Bollywood must have been taking place at about this time. Much of the delicate ambience of the film is totally lost if the audience is misled into believing that India was like this before Independence. Only the ghost of the Empire lingers on in this quiet story. It is not really about a "clash" of cultures, with the violent hostility which that word implies; rather, it gently acknowledges that the old order is changing, giving place to a new. Indian potentates no longer personally strangle unwitting intruders for entering their women's quarters. At least, I don't think they do. The lives of Lizzie's parents are irrevocably inter-woven with a vanished time: they will die in India. Because Lizzie has no place in the new India, she has to be sent away to a home she doesn't know.Read more ›
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By sparky_magic_rainbow on November 11, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
This is a great film to watch on a rainy Sunday. The actors are all top rate and the story unfolds seamlessly. The cat fight between the English girl (played by Felicity Kendall) and the more sophisticated and conniving Bollywood actress was delicious. MEOW.

This underrated gem isnt as "processed" as later Merchant Ivory fare and this makes it //infinitely more superior// and heartwrenching than the glossier and more commercial "Howards End." Some parts are a bit slow/dialogue can be stilted/ending was depressing but "Shakespeare Wallah" is UNDENIABLY TOP SHELF. They dont make poignant films like this any more.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on November 26, 2008
Format: DVD
Set in the culturally transformative 1960's, Shakespeare Wallah is less about the clash between two cultures than the clash between traditional culture and the modernizing influence and effects of internationalization (or globalization as it is now called) that is always occurring but that was accelerated throughout the western and eastern world in that particularly fast-moving decade.

Merchant & Ivory feel an obvious tinge of regret that the old ways are being replaced by new ways but the regret is tempered by the realization that old culture never vanishes altogether but is simply transformed under the pressures of new material conditions and social forces.

The world does not remain the same; but then it never has.

There are two social groups being studied here. There is the English family of traveling Shakespearean actors held together by national, familial and vocational bonds (as well as the shared sense of adventure of living in a foreign land). Then there is the Indian group who are held together by national, familial, and class bonds. Interestingly enough, artists and patrons of the arts communicate quite easily across national and class lines. In fact art seems to remove all barriers between peoples. Art is therefore a great ambassador; it builds understanding and respect between peoples. Art also provides a certain continuity to life for Shakespeare is relevant in all times and all places. The family of Shakepeare actors have been living in India and performing Shakespeare plays since before Indian Independence. The radical social changes of the 1960's do not make Shakespeare irrelevent but the availability of new media like film make live theatre seem like a thing of the past.
Read more ›
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