The Merchant Ivory Collection ACMI Presents

Shakespeare Wallah

PG Scroll to content

“Merchant Ivory’s comic elegy offers an inimitable Midsummer in India... breezy and beguiling... This new restoration is gorgeous”

The Village Voice

Elegiac and atmospheric, Shakespeare Wallah put Merchant Ivory firmly on the international movie map. Starring Shashi Kapoor, Madhur Jaffrey, and a young Felicity Kendal, the film's inspiration was drawn from the real-life adventures of Ms Kendal's family as a travelling theatre troupe in India during the final days of English colonial rule.

Cast in the film as the Buckingham Players, the Kendals – Geoffrey, Laura and Felicity – travel the country staging Shakespeare plays for local royalty and boarding schools, but increasingly struggle to compete with the local film industry's wildly popular Bollywood films. The troupe's young ingénue, Lizzie (Kendal) takes up with Sanju (Kapoor), a charming opportunist, but their romance is beset by setbacks, not the least being the machinations of Manjula (Jaffrey), a temperamental film star with her sights firmly set on Sanju.

Shot on location in India, co-written by director James Ivory and frequent collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the film features a music score by Satyajit Ray and cinematography by Subrata Mitra, Ray's frequent collaborator (Pather Panchali, Charulata).

Madhur Jaffrey won the Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear for Best Actress.

Premiere screenings of the new digital restoration.