Tanqeed Film Festival: Shatranj Ke Khilari

On Satyajit Ray’s birthday check out the classic Shatranj Ke Khilari.

Synopsis: The East India Company rules much of India; directly or indirectly through ‘treaties of friendship.’ The kingdom of Avadh is under such a treaty of friendship. Its ruler, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah (Amjad Khan), is an indifferent ruler, who prefers arts to the matters of state or politics. Mirza Sajjad Ali (Sanjeev Kumar) and Mir Roshan Ali (Saeed Jaffrey) are two landlords living in the capital city of Lucknow. They do nothing, and are addicted to the game of chess. Mirza’s wife, Khurshid (Shabana Azmi), feels neglected. Mir’s wife, Nafeesa (Farida Jalal) has found solace in a wild love affair with a young nephew. Lord Dalhousie, the Governor General, sends General Outram (Sir Richard Attenborough), the British Resident of Lucknow, to take over Avadh under the pretext of Nawab’s misrule.

The king, Wajid Ali Shah has only two options, either to give up his throne or to fight a battle. Mir and Mirza learn about the British Company’s troops marching towards Lucknow. Scared that they may be called to fight the British forces, they run off to a remote village to continue playing chess.

Had posted some scenes in Scene of the Week and had written a Recco a few years back.

Scene of the Week


  1. Anjanpur685Miles 9 years ago

    Saw this long back in 90s and then again in like 2005-2007 sometime. But both times ended up remembering only Amitabh’s perfect voiceover and nothing else πŸ™‚

    • Author
      sputnik 9 years ago

      Yes Amitabh’s voice over was great. I saw this back in 90s and again in early 2000s and once again in 2006/2007 and I like this movie. Its subtle and there is lot of sarcastic digs at the Nawaabi culture.

  2. ank_16n 9 years ago

    I Tried to see the movie when it was coming on some TV channel some 5-7 years back….
    but after seeing some 30-40 min found it too slow for my liking and Changed the channel(Maybe bcoz i was just 14-15years back then)…

    will give it a shot if saw it coming again on TV..!!

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