Presents: Opening at the Quad Cinemas in New York on November 10, 2017
The 4K Restoration Rerelease of
The 1965 Merchant Ivory Production of Shakespeare Wallah
Directed by James Ivory
Produced by Ismail Merchant
Story and Screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala & Ismail Merchant
Starring Shashi Kapoor, Madhur Jaffrey, and Felicity Kendal, and Geoffrey Kendal, Laura Lidell, and Jennifer Kendal who are uncredited
Original Music by Satyajit Ray
Cohen Media Group proudly presents Shakespeare Wallah (1965) in a brand new 4K scan and restoration from the original camera and magnetic soundtrack. Featuring a new 5.1 audio mix from the stereo 35mm mags, all approved by director James Ivory.
Shakespeare Wallah is part of the Cohen Film Collection, which has acquired a 30-film library of movies directed and produced by the James Ivory-Ismail Merchant filmmaking team.
Elegiac and atmospheric, Shakespeare Wallah was the feature film that really put Merchant Ivory Productions on the international movie map, winning them great critical acclaim and now recognized as a classic. Starring Shashi Kapoor, Madhur Jaffrey, and a young Felicity Kendal. The film’s inspiration comes from the real-life adventures of Ms. Kendal’s family. They were a traveling theater group in India during the final days of English colonial rule.
The ‘Buckingham Players’ try to keep the British tradition by staging Shakespeare plays for the public, boarding schools, and local royalty. They have been unable to compete with the wildly popular Bollywood film industry. Through their travels, we see change happen through time. The film also traces the developing relationship between the acting troupe’s young ingénue, Lizzie (Kendal), and Sanju (Kapoor), a wealthy Indian playboy. But their romance is beset by hindrances, not the least being the machinations of Manjula (Jaffrey), a fiery Indian film star who is also in love with Sanju.
In the 1940’s & 1950’s, Geoffrey Kendall, his wife, Laura Lidell, their daughters Jennifer and Felicity, and their traveling theatre troupe, Shakespeareana, traveled around the towns and villages of India giving performances of Shakespeare plays from small village halls to luxurious maharajas’ palaces. They were often joined by a variety of young actors who would come to later earn an international cinematic acclaim. While mostly Shakespearean plays, there were also those of Sheridan, Shaw, and Wilde. Kendal was publicly anointed “Shakespeare Wallah” after the 1965 Merchant Ivory film of the same name. In the film – which also featured his wife, daughters, and son-in-law, (Shashi Kapoor) – three members of an English theatrical family “play” themselves.
Part of Cohen Media Group, the Cohen Film Collection was created in 2011 by Charles S. Cohen, upon acquiring the Rohauer Library collection of hundreds of rare and classic movies, spanning from the silent film era to present day. Cohen has added movies to the Collection, including classic British and French films from filmmakers such as Ken Loach, Claude Chabrol, Patrice Chereau, Maurice Pilat and Merchant/Ivory. The Collection’s holdings are being restored for the theatrical and home markets.