Shakespeare Wallah, the second feature uniting director/screenwriter James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant — known then and forever as Merchant Ivory — with screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and actor Shashi Kapoor secured the world cinema reputations of all concerned.
In 1960s post-colonial India, Tony Buckingham (Geoffrey Kendal) and his wife, Carla (Laura Liddell), are the British actor-managers of a troupe of English, Irish and Indian actors who travel the country mounting performances of Shakespeare’s works. The Buckinghams find themselves grappling with a diminishing demand for their craft as the English theatre on the subcontinent is supplanted by the emerging Bollywood film movement. Meanwhile, Lizzie Buckingham (Felicity Kendal), the couple’s daughter, falls in love with Sanju (Shashi Kapoor), a wealthy young Indian playboy who is also romantically involved with the glamorous but vain Bollywood movie star Manjula (Madhur Jaffrey). The Buckinghams must weigh their devotion to their craft against their concern over their daughter’s future in a country which, it seems, no longer has a place for them.
The Merchant Ivory tenets of literate wit, heartbreak, and cultural collision all take center stage.
Shakespeare Wallah was orginally released in 1965. Shakespeare Wallah received a 4K restoration from Cohen Media Group.