The Chess Players

Film

Period and swashbuckler films

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Time Out says

The short-story irony of two nawabs playing interminable games of chess while their domestic domains crumble, and of a king wrapped up in his aesthetic pursuits while his territory is threatened by British expansionism, is decked out opulently enough (notably a lavish recreation of 1856 Lucknow); but it pales beside that of Ray's inability to distinguish a historical film from a mere costume drama. This has its moments as a gentle comedy, with Saeed Jaffrey in good form, but its nudging metaphors on queens and pawns provide a facile analysis of colonial politics.
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Release details

UK release:

1977

Duration:

129 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Satyajit Ray

Cast:

Richard Attenborough, Amjad Khan, Saeed Jaffrey, Sanjeev Kumar, Shabana Azmi

Music:

Satyajit Ray

Art Director:

Bansi Chandragupta

Editor:

Dulal Dutta

Cinematography:

Soumendu Roy

Screenwriter:

Satyajit Ray

Producer:

Suresh Jindal

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usman khawaja

writer munshiprem chand director satyajit ray cast; sanjeev kumar ,saeed jaffrey,shabana .fareedajalal ,veena and amjad khan released 1977 nominated for golden bear best movie at berlin duration 127 minutes rays most elaborate movie set against the setting sun of nawab wajids ali shahs rule over oudh is a brilliant metaphor for .the depiction of the degenerate , indifferent aristocracy who are busy playing chess while the british are busy with their own chess game to aquire the richest territory of northern india,the trick is immaculately played as the audience watch in retrospect from the perspective of a chess game . the effeminate nawab wajid ali shah ,last ruler of oudh is meticulously portrayed by amjad khan as a pathetic ,degenerate figure who has an army of women as bodygaurds with whom he intends to defeat the english troops and their allies .if it was not so true it would be almost reduced to pantomime as he foibles with his female soldiers ,and their silken uniforms . the queen mother -veena is extremely elegant ,eloquent , wise yet helpless knowing her son is going to lose his precious heritage-yet her pleas fall on deaf ears , its heartbreaking when she wails we shall appeal to queen victoria even if we have to go to the shores of england , alas her wailing is futile and his self indulgent son is busy with his numerous consorts and court conspiracies . it is indeed a brilliant chess game played with ivory pieces on damask cloth,and the players dress and prepare meticulously for the game as if it was a matter of life and death. from the luscious outdoors to the authentic palatial interiors every detail is flawless ,but the satire is socio-political and defines a whole age and a few generations ,describing the evils of decades of decadence which is ultimately taking its toll. the two nawabs mir and mirza played by saeed jaffrey and sanjeev kumar are extremely intelligent yet indifferent to whats happenning outside ,they continue to play chess while the english army marches into lucknow , theie desperation is visible in their mannerisms and mood , this is a subtle game , but a game where a glance or a gesture conveys what a dozen movies cannot communicate or put together , the frustrated wives who are aware of the loss are busy with their domestic cospiracies and gloating over dresses and jewels ,played accurately by shabana azmi and farida , their aristocratic demeanour is both hilarious and pathetic , yet that is what this society had degenerated to , you have to applaud the subtlety of how this is shown , no melodrama or sentimentality- just pure cinema,without correction or sermonising -the maker observes the characters who evolve in their own time in their ambivalent milieu. the urdu language is used perfectly to show the mental calibre of these people , they are highly articulate , intelligent but too smug to put up a struggle if it will in any manner inconvenience them ,their risque lives are safe as long as the threat is not facing them individually . its wisely said you cannot destroy a civilization till it has desroyed itself and that is the tragedy that had befallen oudh , the courtesans , kiteflying ,pigeon-fights and chess were more important then morality or freedom ,a kingly ransom could be wasted as shown in a matter of hours on trivia without any reaon-while the common man was suferring ,the aristocracy was living akin to the insensitive and degenerate existence of french nobles before the bastille fell to the rebels. the scene where wajid laments the english violation of the sham peace treaty he had signed with them to his minister,actually makes you empathise at his impotence rather then evoke any sympathy as inteded for he is a vulnerable ,weakling but still a ruler unable to protect himself or his people what ray is showing is how the indian aristocracy gave their heritage away for a pseudo luxurious lifestyle which was extremely frustrating in itself as reflected by the boredom of the the two nawabs and their wives-begums , their existence essentially was a useless nuance to themselves so why should they bother about whats happenning outside , the invasion becomes a trifle and the game becomes the ultimate stake ,the perfect illusion to create a shangri-la of blissful content -yet the doom is knocking on the door and their lives are at stake itself .but the self-deception is as cruel as the chess -game ,ruthless and imminently exigent ,giving no quarter to any party . chess becomes the perfect excuse to escape the harsh reality and the pervading degenerate insouciance ,but it is also a metaphor for the victims and the agressor and the cunning will win the game of chess ,which alludes to oudh in this perspective .the concept was masterly and the execution becomes genius . technically its superb , the vivid sunsets , the elaborate costumes are photographed flawlessly , the editing is marvellous as the harmony of the script is maintained throughout a complex plot , as is the music and the poetry , a great background score but ray knows when silence can be more useful then any orchestra or symphony as do all great directors [compare kubricks 2001],the final march of english troops preceded by a deafening silence is genius itself. in sharp contrast to the ordinary indian cinema ,the british are portrayed authentically too , the role of general outram is played by none other then richard attenborough , it just shows the respect this ray of genius commanded all over the world ,and he is appropriately condescending yet sceptical of a culture he scorns and does not want to comprehend the moral issues that might pervade with his sensiblities and obstruct him from performing his duties to annihilate the rule of the nawab of oudh. it is a tribute to the great urdu language which the director uses flawlessly ,every actor speaks in perfect accents and polished diction , this is no mean accomplishment when you realise sanjeev was a gujrati , yet he is perfect as a muslim aristocrat mouthing pure ,pristine urdu in compunction with his spouse played by the urdu speaking -shabana azmi. finally just a trivia ,ray cast sanjeev and amjad after watching sholay , you can imagine this was his first and last urdu movie so everyone including the superstars were vying to work with him , when asked about his decision to work with sanjeev he evaded the question by saying -oh yes mr bachan has a wonderful voice ,but sanjeev -amjad suited the role. the chess players is the jewel in the crown of indian cinema ,it was constructed painstakingly by ray who drew every scene and sketched every detail before comitting it to movie stock,and the results speak on silver screen. ray eceived his life time achievement oscar , the first and possibly last oscar india will ever receive a few years later he made this memorable masterpiece the chess players had won the game with the yankees ,though wajid ali shah lost his game to the british, what a pity as history might have been very different usman khawaja -jbz7879

usman khawaja

writer munshiprem chand director satyajit ray cast; sanjeev kumar ,saeed jaffrey,shabana .fareedajalal ,veena and amjad khan released 1977 nominated for golden bear best movie at berlin duration 127 minutes rays most elaborate movie set against the setting sun of nawab wajids ali shahs rule over oudh is a brilliant metaphor for .the depiction of the degenerate , indifferent aristocracy who are busy playing chess while the british are busy with their own chess game to aquire the richest territory of northern india,the trick is immaculately played as the audience watch in retrospect from the perspective of a chess game . the effeminate nawab wajid ali shah ,last ruler of oudh is meticulously portrayed by amjad khan as a pathetic ,degenerate figure who has an army of women as bodygaurds with whom he intends to defeat the english troops and their allies .if it was not so true it would be almost reduced to pantomime as he foibles with his female soldiers ,and their silken uniforms . the queen mother -veena is extremely elegant ,eloquent , wise yet helpless knowing her son is going to lose his precious heritage-yet her pleas fall on deaf ears , its heartbreaking when she wails we shall appeal to queen victoria even if we have to go to the shores of england , alas her wailing is futile and his self indulgent son is busy with his numerous consorts and court conspiracies . it is indeed a brilliant chess game played with ivory pieces on damask cloth,and the players dress and prepare meticulously for the game as if it was a matter of life and death. from the luscious outdoors to the authentic palatial interiors every detail is flawless ,but the satire is socio-political and defines a whole age and a few generations ,describing the evils of decades of decadence which is ultimately taking its toll. the two nawabs mir and mirza played by saeed jaffrey and sanjeev kumar are extremely intelligent yet indifferent to whats happenning outside ,they continue to play chess while the english army marches into lucknow , theie desperation is visible in their mannerisms and mood , this is a subtle game , but a game where a glance or a gesture conveys what a dozen movies cannot communicate or put together , the frustrated wives who are aware of the loss are busy with their domestic cospiracies and gloating over dresses and jewels ,played accurately by shabana azmi and farida , their aristocratic demeanour is both hilarious and pathetic , yet that is what this society had degenerated to , you have to applaud the subtlety of how this is shown , no melodrama or sentimentality- just pure cinema,without correction or sermonising -the maker observes the characters who evolve in their own time in their ambivalent milieu. the urdu language is used perfectly to show the mental calibre of these people , they are highly articulate , intelligent but too smug to put up a struggle if it will in any manner inconvenience them ,their risque lives are safe as long as the threat is not facing them individually . its wisely said you cannot destroy a civilization till it has desroyed itself and that is the tragedy that had befallen oudh , the courtesans , kiteflying ,pigeon-fights and chess were more important then morality or freedom ,a kingly ransom could be wasted as shown in a matter of hours on trivia without any reaon-while the common man was suferring ,the aristocracy was living akin to the insensitive and degenerate existence of french nobles before the bastille fell to the rebels. the scene where wajid laments the english violation of the sham peace treaty he had signed with them to his minister,actually makes you empathise at his impotence rather then evoke any sympathy as inteded for he is a vulnerable ,weakling but still a ruler unable to protect himself or his people what ray is showing is how the indian aristocracy gave their heritage away for a pseudo luxurious lifestyle which was extremely frustrating in itself as reflected by the boredom of the the two nawabs and their wives-begums , their existence essentially was a useless nuance to themselves so why should they bother about whats happenning outside , the invasion becomes a trifle and the game becomes the ultimate stake ,the perfect illusion to create a shangri-la of blissful content -yet the doom is knocking on the door and their lives are at stake itself .but the self-deception is as cruel as the chess -game ,ruthless and imminently exigent ,giving no quarter to any party . chess becomes the perfect excuse to escape the harsh reality and the pervading degenerate insouciance ,but it is also a metaphor for the victims and the agressor and the cunning will win the game of chess ,which alludes to oudh in this perspective .the concept was masterly and the execution becomes genius . technically its superb , the vivid sunsets , the elaborate costumes are photographed flawlessly , the editing is marvellous as the harmony of the script is maintained throughout a complex plot , as is the music and the poetry , a great background score but ray knows when silence can be more useful then any orchestra or symphony as do all great directors [compare kubricks 2001],the final march of english troops preceded by a deafening silence is genius itself. in sharp contrast to the ordinary indian cinema ,the british are portrayed authentically too , the role of general outram is played by none other then richard attenborough , it just shows the respect this ray of genius commanded all over the world ,and he is appropriately condescending yet sceptical of a culture he scorns and does not want to comprehend the moral issues that might pervade with his sensiblities and obstruct him from performing his duties to annihilate the rule of the nawab of oudh. it is a tribute to the great urdu language which the director uses flawlessly ,every actor speaks in perfect accents and polished diction , this is no mean accomplishment when you realise sanjeev was a gujrati , yet he is perfect as a muslim aristocrat mouthing pure ,pristine urdu in compunction with his spouse played by the urdu speaking -shabana azmi. finally just a trivia ,ray cast sanjeev and amjad after watching sholay , you can imagine this was his first and last urdu movie so everyone including the superstars were vying to work with him , when asked about his decision to work with sanjeev he evaded the question by saying -oh yes mr bachan has a wonderful voice ,but sanjeev -amjad suited the role. the chess players is the jewel in the crown of indian cinema ,it was constructed painstakingly by ray who drew every scene and sketched every detail before comitting it to movie stock,and the results speak on silver screen. ray eceived his life time achievement oscar , the first and possibly last oscar india will ever receive a few years later he made this memorable masterpiece the chess players had won the game with the yankees ,though wajid ali shah lost his game to the british, what a pity as history might have been very different usman khawaja -jbz7879

usman khawaja

writer munshiprem chand director satyajit ray cast; sanjeev kumar ,saeed jaffrey,shabana .fareedajalal ,veena and amjad khan released 1977 nominated for golden bear best movie at berlin duration 127 minutes rays most elaborate movie set against the setting sun of nawab wajids ali shahs rule over oudh is a brilliant metaphor for .the depiction of the degenerate , indifferent aristocracy who are busy playing chess while the british are busy with their own chess game to aquire the richest territory of northern india,the trick is immaculately played as the audience watch in retrospect from the perspective of a chess game . the effeminate nawab wajid ali shah ,last ruler of oudh is meticulously portrayed by amjad khan as a pathetic ,degenerate figure who has an army of women as bodygaurds with whom he intends to defeat the english troops and their allies .if it was not so true it would be almost reduced to pantomime as he foibles with his female soldiers ,and their silken uniforms . the queen mother -veena is extremely elegant ,eloquent , wise yet helpless knowing her son is going to lose his precious heritage-yet her pleas fall on deaf ears , its heartbreaking when she wails we shall appeal to queen victoria even if we have to go to the shores of england , alas her wailing is futile and his self indulgent son is busy with his numerous consorts and court conspiracies . it is indeed a brilliant chess game played with ivory pieces on damask cloth,and the players dress and prepare meticulously for the game as if it was a matter of life and death. from the luscious outdoors to the authentic palatial interiors every detail is flawless ,but the satire is socio-political and defines a whole age and a few generations ,describing the evils of decades of decadence which is ultimately taking its toll. the two nawabs mir and mirza played by saeed jaffrey and sanjeev kumar are extremely intelligent yet indifferent to whats happenning outside ,they continue to play chess while the english army marches into lucknow , theie desperation is visible in their mannerisms and mood , this is a subtle game , but a game where a glance or a gesture conveys what a dozen movies cannot communicate or put together , the frustrated wives who are aware of the loss are busy with their domestic cospiracies and gloating over dresses and jewels ,played accurately by shabana azmi and farida , their aristocratic demeanour is both hilarious and pathetic , yet that is what this society had degenerated to , you have to applaud the subtlety of how this is shown , no melodrama or sentimentality- just pure cinema,without correction or sermonising -the maker observes the characters who evolve in their own time in their ambivalent milieu. the urdu language is used perfectly to show the mental calibre of these people , they are highly articulate , intelligent but too smug to put up a struggle if it will in any manner inconvenience them ,their risque lives are safe as long as the threat is not facing them individually . its wisely said you cannot destroy a civilization till it has desroyed itself and that is the tragedy that had befallen oudh , the courtesans , kiteflying ,pigeon-fights and chess were more important then morality or freedom ,a kingly ransom could be wasted as shown in a matter of hours on trivia without any reaon-while the common man was suferring ,the aristocracy was living akin to the insensitive and degenerate existence of french nobles before the bastille fell to the rebels. the scene where wajid laments the english violation of the sham peace treaty he had signed with them to his minister,actually makes you empathise at his impotence rather then evoke any sympathy as inteded for he is a vulnerable ,weakling but still a ruler unable to protect himself or his people what ray is showing is how the indian aristocracy gave their heritage away for a pseudo luxurious lifestyle which was extremely frustrating in itself as reflected by the boredom of the the two nawabs and their wives-begums , their existence essentially was a useless nuance to themselves so why should they bother about whats happenning outside , the invasion becomes a trifle and the game becomes the ultimate stake ,the perfect illusion to create a shangri-la of blissful content -yet the doom is knocking on the door and their lives are at stake itself .but the self-deception is as cruel as the chess -game ,ruthless and imminently exigent ,giving no quarter to any party . chess becomes the perfect excuse to escape the harsh reality and the pervading degenerate insouciance ,butit is also a metaphor for the victims and the agressor and the cunning will win the game of chess ,which alludes to oudh in this perspective .the concept was masterly and the execution becomes genius . technically its superb , the vivid sunsets , the elaborate costumes are photographed flawlessly , the editing is marvellous as the harmony of the script is maintained throughout a complex plot , as is the music and the poetry , a great background score but ray knows when silence can be more useful then any orchestra or symphony as do all great directors [compare kubricks 2001],the final march of english troops preceded by a deafening silence is genius itself. in sharp contrast to the ordinary indian cinema ,the british are portrayed authentically too , the role of general outram is played by none other then richard attenborough , it just shows the respect this ray of genius commanded all over the world ,and he is appropriately condescending yet sceptical of a culture he scorns and does not want to comprehend the moral issues that might pervade with his sensiblities and obstruct him from performing his duties to annihilate the rule of the nawab of oudh. it is a tribute to the great urdu language which the director uses flawlessly ,every actor speaks in perfect accents and polished diction , this is no mean accomplishment when you realise sanjeev was a gujrati , yet he is perfect as a muslim aristocrat mouthing pure ,pristine urdu in compunction with his spouse played by the urdu speaking -shabana azmi. finally just a trivia ,ray cast sanjeev and amjad after watching sholay , you can imagine this was his first and last urdu movie so everyone including the superstars were vying to work with him , when asked about his decision to work with sanjeev he evaded the question by saying -oh yes mr bachan has a wonderful voice ,but sanjeev -amjad suited the role. the chess players is the jewel in the crown of indian cinema ,it was constructed painstakingly by ray who drew every scene and sketched every detail before comitting it to movie stock,and the results speak on silver screen. ray eceived his life time achievement oscar , the first and possibly last oscar india will ever receive a few years later he made this memorable masterpiece the chess players had won the game with the yankees ,though wajid ali shah lost his game to the british, what a pity as history might have been very different usman khawaja -jbz7879

usman khawaja

writer munshiprem chand director satyajit ray cast; sanjeev kumar ,saeed jaffrey,shabana .fareedajalal ,veena and amjad khan released 1977 nominated for golden bear best movie at berlin duration 127 minutes rays most elaborate movie set against the setting sun of nawab wajids ali shahs rule over oudh is a brilliant metaphor for .the depiction of the degenerate , indifferent aristocracy who are busy playing chess while the british are busy with their own chess game to aquire the richest territory of northern india,the trick is immaculately played as the audience watch in retrospect from the perspective of a chess game . the effeminate nawab wajid ali shah ,last ruler of oudh is meticulously portrayed by amjad khan as a pathetic ,degenerate figure who has an army of women as bodygaurds with whom he intends to defeat the english troops and their allies .if it was not so true it would be almost reduced to pantomime as he foibles with his female soldiers ,and their silken uniforms . the queen mother -veena is extremely elegant ,eloquent , wise yet helpless knowing her son is going to lose his precious heritage-yet her pleas fall on deaf ears , its heartbreaking when she wails we shall appeal to queen victoria even if we have to go to the shores of england , alas her wailing is futile and his self indulgent son is busy with his numerous consorts and court conspiracies . it is indeed a brilliant chess game played with ivory pieces on damask cloth,and the players dress and prepare meticulously for the game as if it was a matter of life and death. from the luscious outdoors to the authentic palatial interiors every detail is flawless ,but the satire is socio-political and defines a whole age and a few generations ,describing the evils of decades of decadence which is ultimately taking its toll. the two nawabs mir and mirza played by saeed jaffrey and sanjeev kumar are extremely intelligent yet indifferent to whats happenning outside ,they continue to play chess while the english army marches into lucknow , theie desperation is visible in their mannerisms and mood , this is a subtle game , but a game where a glance or a gesture conveys what a dozen movies cannot communicate or put together , the frustrated wives who are aware of the loss are busy with their domestic cospiracies and gloating over dresses and jewels ,played accurately by shabana azmi and farida , their aristocratic demeanour is both hilarious and pathetic , yet that is what this society had degenerated to , you have to applaud the subtlety of how this is shown , no melodrama or sentimentality- just pure cinema,without correction or sermonising -the maker observes the characters who evolve in their own time in their ambivalent milieu. the urdu language is used perfectly to show the mental calibre of these people , they are highly articulate , intelligent but too smug to put up a struggle if it will in any manner inconvenience them ,their risque lives are safe as long as the threat is not facing them individually . its wisely said you cannot destroy a civilization till it has desroyed itself and that is the tragedy that had befallen oudh , the courtesans , kiteflying ,pigeon-fights and chess were more important then morality or freedom ,a kingly ransom could be wasted as shown in a matter of hours on trivia without any reaon-while the common man was suferring ,the aristocracy was living akin to the insensitive and degenerate existence of french nobles before the bastille fell to the rebels. the scene where wajid laments the english violation of the sham peace treaty he had signed with them to his minister,actually makes you empathise at his impotence rather then evoke any sympathy as inteded for he is a vulnerable ,weakling but still a ruler unable to protect himself or his people what ray is showing is how the indian aristocracy gave their heritage away for a pseudo luxurious lifestyle which was extremely frustrating in itself as reflected by the boredom of the the two nawabs and their wives-begums , their existence essentially was a useless nuance to themselves so why should they bother about whats happenning outside , the invasion becomes a trifle and the game becomes the ultimate stake ,the perfect illusion to create a shangri-la of blissful content -yet the doom is knocking on the door and their lives are at stake itself .but the self-deception is as cruel as the chess -game ,ruthless and imminently exigent ,giving no quarter to any party . chess becomes the perfect excuse to escape the harsh reality and the pervading degenerate insouciance ,butit is also a metaphor for the victims and the agressor and the cunning will win the game of chess ,which alludes to oudh in this perspective .the concept was masterly and the execution becomes genius . technically its superb , the vivid sunsets , the elaborate costumes are photographed flawlessly , the editing is marvellous as the harmony of the script is maintained throughout a complex plot , as is the music and the poetry , a great background score but ray knows when silence can be more useful then any orchestra or symphony as do all great directors [compare kubricks 2001],the final march of english troops preceded by a deafening silence is genius itself. in sharp contrast to the ordinary indian cinema ,the british are portrayed authentically too , the role of general outram is played by none other then richard attenborough , it just shows the respect this ray of genius commanded all over the world ,and he is appropriately condescending yet sceptical of a culture he scorns and does not want to comprehend the moral issues that might pervade with his sensiblities and obstruct him from performing his duties to annihilate the rule of the nawab of oudh. it is a tribute to the great urdu language which the director uses flawlessly ,every actor speaks in perfect accents and polished diction , this is no mean accomplishment when you realise sanjeev was a gujrati , yet he is perfect as a muslim aristocrat mouthing pure ,pristine urdu in compunction with his spouse played by the urdu speaking -shabana azmi. finally just a trivia ,ray cast sanjeev and amjad after watching sholay , you can imagine this was his first and last urdu movie so everyone including the superstars were vying to work with him , when asked about his decision to work with sanjeev he evaded the question by saying -oh yes mr bachan has a wonderful voice ,but sanjeev -amjad suited the role. the chess players is the jewel in the crown of indian cinema ,it was constructed painstakingly by ray who drew every scene and sketched every detail before comitting it to movie stock,and the results speak on silver screen. ray eceived his life time achievement oscar , the first and possibly last oscar india will ever receive a few years later he made this memorable masterpiece the chess players had won the game with the yankees ,though wajid ali shah lost his game to the british, what a pity as history might have been very different usman khawaja -jbz7879