The Householder

James Ivory's first feature was adapted by Ruth Jhabvala from her fourth novel and shot, on a shoestring, in Delhi, using a house belonging to a friend of the producer. A young teacher Prem (Kapoor) finds himself married to an exquisite but trying girl (the part-French Leela Naidu). He's not yet ready, however, to assume the responsibilities of a 'householder'. He feels, like many later Merchant Ivory protagonists - Olivia in Heat and Dust, Leonard Bast in Howards End - that there must be something more to life, something spiritual, something better and higher. Prem searches (comically), but in the end settles for domesticity. The predicaments of Olivia and Leonard were resolved with greater dramatic conviction, but there's much that's authentic and touching in this small, sharply observed drama about the necessity of a man turning a deaf ear to the sighs of his mother. Ivory showed an early version of the film to Satyajit Ray who offered to reshape it. The task took three days, and Ivory recalls the explosive force of the Master's repeated command, Cut!

Release details

Duration: 101 mins

Cast and crew

Director: James Ivory
Screenwriter: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Cast: Shashi Kapoor
Leela Naidu
Durga Khote
Achla Sachdev
Hariendernath Chattopadayaya
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