Satyajit Ray’s 1977 Indian film “Shatranj Ke Khilari”, also subtitled and later internationally distributed with the English title “The Chess Players”, is based on Munshi Premchand’s short story of the same name. Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, King of Awadh, is played by Amjad Khan, and General James Outram is played by Richard Attenborough. The chess players are played by actors Sanjeev Kumar and Saeed Jaffrey. Shabana Azmi, Farooque Shaikh, Farida Jalal, David Abraham, and Tom Alter are among the cast members. The narration is done by the one and only Amitabh Bachchan.
The movie is set in 1856, Awadh During the annexation of the state. It chronicles the historical event unfolding, parallelly showcasing two noble friends Mirza Ali and Mir Ali’s infatuation with the game of chess leading them to ignore the environment around them and their families. The maestro director masterfully uses the duo of Mirza Ali and Mir Ali to aptly elucidate the political scenario in Awadh.The performers are potent enough to transport you to the Awadh of the 1850s with their perfect dialect and marvelous mannerisms. The characters of Mirza Ali and Mir Ali depict the blatant naivety of the aristocracy of that time and the cost of a game of chess. The direction of the great Satyajit Ray is always superb, emulating the grief and grace of a time long lost to the mistakes of our progenitors. This movie is a spectacle to behold and a spectacle to learn from. Through this movie, you will not learn the moves of the board but you will learn the ways of this labyrinth earth we call home.
Khalid Khursheed
Class X

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