“The quality of art and storytelling has simply gone downhill in he past few decades. This new generation simply does not understand the beauty of real entertainment.” – Every 50+ Person Ever.
You see, the arts are a constantly evolving genre of expression. Whether it at the turn of the century when millennial took over the world with web-series,“Neflix and chill” and DVRs or back in the 50’s when cinema took over theater in the form of motion pictures. The 2K restoration of Merchant Ivory Productions 1961 feature film ‘Shakespeare Wallah‘ narrates a similar tale of the affects of generational gap and technology on the arts.
Tony Buckingham (Geoffrey Kendal) and his wife Carla (Laura Lidell) are the backbone of a caravan of Shakespearean actors in post-colonial India. As the hands of time begin ticking in favor of motion pictures, the Buckinghams are at a shortage of patrons for their art. While their art is hanging on by a thin rope, the couple’s daughter Lizzie Buckingham (Felicity Kendal) is strengthening the bonds of her romantic relationship with Sanju (Shashi Kapoor), a rich and famous Indian playboy who is already involved Bollywood star Manjula (Madhur Jaffrey).
Through their performances Felicity Kendal and Shashi Kapoor brilliantly bring forth a unique personification of the post-colonial world. Kendal, a representative of the once lavish British Empire struggles with her new identity while a young and debonair Kapoor represents India’s thirst of the modern world and ways. Their journey in many ways is the struggle of two nations as they decide whether they want to latch on to the ancient traditions or move on to modern paths.
Madhur Jaffrey, who plays the famous movie-star mistress had a charm like no other. Despite her rash behavior, the audience is able to connect with Manjula in a way that they almost feel sorry for her.
Music by Satyajit Ray wonderfully compliments the bold storytelling and direction of Ismail Merchant. Those who have seen the film already must check out the 2K restoration and for those who have not, do not miss out on this opportunity of a lifetime. The film opens at the Quad Cinemas in New York on November 10, 2017