The Householder

The Householder (Hindi title: Gharbar) is a 1963 film by Merchant Ivory Productions, with a screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and James Ivory, and direction of James Ivory. It is based upon the 1960 novel of the same name by Jhabvala.

The Householder
DVD cover art
Directed byJames Ivory
Produced byIsmail Merchant
Screenplay byRuth Prawer Jhabvala
James Ivory
Based onThe Householder
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
StarringShashi Kapoor
Leela Naidu
Durga Khote
Music byUstad Ali Akbar Khan
CinematographySubrata Mitra
Edited byRaja Ram Khetle
Color processBlack & white
Distributed byRoyal Films International
Release date
  • 1963 (1963)
Running time
101 minutes

This was the first collaboration between producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory, a documentary filmmaker till then. They went on to make nearly forty films together, many of which were written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who also adapted many adaptations of literary classics for them, such as Henry JamesThe Europeans (1979) and The Bostonians (1984), E.M. Forster‘s A Room with a View (1985) and Howards End (1992), and Peter Cameron‘s The City of Your Final Destination (2009).


Prem Sagar (Shashi Kapoor), a teacher at a private college in Delhi, is married to Indu (Leela Naidu) in an arranged marriage recently and is still learning ropes of relationships, when the arrival of Prem's mother (Durga Khote) spells doom to their budding relationship. Indu, unable to handle her interference in the marriage, leaves Prem to return to her family. Prem searches for answers from a variety of people, including a Swami (Pahari Sanyal), who reveals the secret of a successful marriage, as a result, he finally gains the maturity to love his wife.[1]



Ivory had shot documentary, The Delhi Way was editing it in New York, when he met anthropologist Gitel Steed, who was developing a project based on her screenplay, Devgar about a village in Gujarat. Ismail Merchant was producing the film and had started getting together the finances for the film. Sidney Meyers was the director, while Ivory agreed to shoot the film, whose cast included Shashi Kapoor, Durga Khote and Leela Naidu. When the film fell through due to lack of complete financing, Merchant suggested the idea of The Householder, and the same cast was used. The film cost $125,000, with some of the money Ivory had borrowed from his father. It was made in two versions, Hindi and English, the latter was picked by Columbia Pictures.[2]

Shooting for the film started in 1961 and was completed in 1963.[3] The film was shot entirely on location in Delhi, Mehrauli and Ghaziabad.[4] Satyajit Ray exerted an important influence both on Ivory and Merchant, as well as on this film. In an uncredited assist, he supervised the film's music production and re-cut the film for Merchant and Ivory. He also lent his cameraman, Subrata Mitra, as the director of photography, and as a result the film is infused with the fluid, restrained lyricism that characterizes Ray's work.[4][5]



A Channel 4 review called it "a low-key but rewarding character piece" and "an artful social satire and also a quietly affecting love story",[6] while The New York Times was rather dismissive.[7]

Mike Clark of USA Today called it: "...A charming comedy of marital discord...", gave it, 312 out of 4 stars.[4]


  1. The Householder screenrush.
  2. James Ivory; Robert Emmet Long (2005). James Ivory in Conversation: How Merchant Ivory Makes Its Movies. University of California Press. pp. 67–68. ISBN 978-0-520-23415-4.
  3. Yasmine Gooneratne; Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1983). Silence, Exile, and Cunning: The Fiction of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Orient Longman. pp. 283–. ISBN 978-0-86311-145-7.
  4. Householder - Description
  5. The Householder overview at Merchant Ivory website
  6. The Householder Overview Channel 4 .
  7. New York Times Review The New York Times, 13 October 1963.
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