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Centre for the Study of Culture and Society



Shatranj Ke Khiladi/The Chess Players (Satyajit Ray, Urdu/English, 1977)
Set in 1856, just before the Indian Mutiny of 1857, in the city of Lucknow, capital of Avadh, ruled by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. The British are about to annex the State. Based on Premchand’s short story, the film shows the music- and dance-loving Nawab at a moment when he loses his kingdom. Paralleling this story is the story of two rich noblemen, intent only on completing their interminable games of chess, neglecting their families and the momentous political occasion about to engulf their state.

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