Shakespeare Wallah

Shakespeare Wallah is a 1965 Merchant Ivory Productions film. The story and screenplay are by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, about a travelling family theatre troupe of English actors in India, who perform Shakespeare plays in towns across India, amidst a dwindling demand for their work and the rise of Bollywood. Madhur Jaffrey won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival for her performance. The music was composed by Satyajit Ray.[1]

Shakespeare Wallah
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Ivory
Produced byIsmail Merchant
Written byRuth Prawer Jhabvala
StarringShashi Kapoor
Felicity Kendal
Madhur Jaffrey
Geoffrey Kendal
Partap Sharma
Music bySatyajit Ray
CinematographySubrata Mitra
Edited byAmit Bose
Release date
Running time
120 minutes
CountryUnited States


Loosely based on the real-life actor-manager Geoffrey Kendal's family and his travelling "Shakespeareana Company", which earned him the Indian sobriquet "Shakespearewallah", the film follows the story of nomadic British actors as they perform Shakespeare plays in towns in post-colonial India.[2] In this story, Tony Buckingham (Geoffrey Kendal) and his wife Carla (Laura Liddell) oversee the troupe. Their daughter, Lizzie Buckingham (Felicity Kendal), falls in love with Sanju (Shashi Kapoor), who is also romancing Manjula (Madhur Jaffrey), a Bollywood film star.

In real life, Shashi Kapoor fell in love with Felicity's elder sister Jennifer Kendal. Their marriage provided an important contribution to the Indian film industry until Kendal's death in 1984.



After the success of the first film, The Householder (1963), the team of Ivory and Merchant reunited with screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and actor Shashi Kapoor for this film. Due to budget constraints, the film was shot in black and white, and the Kendal family play their own fictionalized counterparts, "the Buckinghams".[3][4]

See also


  1. "Berlinale 1965: Prize Winners". Retrieved 21 February 2010.
  2. Kuldip Singh (15 June 1998). "Obituary: Geoffrey Kendal". The Independent. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  3. "Shakespeare Wallah: James Ivory". TIFF. Archived from the original on 27 August 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  4. Keller, p. 42

Further reading

  • Geoffrey Kendal; Clare Colvin (1987). Shakespeare Wallah: Autobiography. Penguin Books. p. 186. ISBN 0140096841.
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