Film Series: The British Raj between Page and Screen

Join us for a series of films based on works of literature that portray life in India during the period of colonial rule known as the British Raj (1858–1947). Based on novels and short stories in English, Hindi-Urdu and Bengali that were published before 1947, these films examine the legacy of the Raj from the vantage point of an independent India.

Doors open at 5:00 p.m. All films are free with museum admission. 

Film Kim 600x600             

Kim (1950), NR
Directed by Victor Saville
Friday, May 4, 5:30–7:25 p.m.

During the British Raj, the orphan (Dean Stockwell) of a British soldier poses as a Hindu and is torn between his loyalty to a Buddhist mystic (Errol Flynn) and aiding the English secret service. The film is based on the novel Kim by Rudyard Kipling, first published in book form in 1901.

 Film ChessPlayers 600x600      

Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players) (1977), NR
Directed by Satyajit Ray
Friday, May 11, 5:30–7:40 p.m.

In this movie set in 1856, shortly before the first Indian struggle for independence, Wajid Ali Shah is portrayed as an indifferent ruler who composes poems and listens to music, while British general James Outram (Sir Richard Attenborough) arrives on a secret mission to clear the way for the British. Meanwhile, two noblemen obsessively play endless games of chess, ignoring the situation that unfolds around them. The film is based on the short story Shatranj Ke Khilari by Premchand, published in Hindi and Urdu in 1924.
In Hindi/Urdu and English with English subtitles.

 Film TheRiver 600x600      

The River (1951), NR
Directed by Jean Renoir
Friday, May 18, 5:30–7:10 p.m.

Director Jean Renoir’s entrancing first color feature—shot entirely on location in India—is a visual tour de force. The film eloquently contrasts the growing pains of three young women with the immutability of the Ganges River, around which their daily lives unfold. The River gracefully explores the fragile connections between transitory emotions and everlasting creation. The film is based on the novel The River by Rumer Godden, published in 1946.

 Film Home 600x600      

Ghare Baire (The Home and the World) (1984), NR
Directed by Satyajit Ray
Friday, May 25, 5:30–7:30 p.m.

In 1907, Nikhil (Victor Banerjee)—a wealthy yet enlightened and charitable Bengali landowner—encourages his wife Bimala (Swatilekha Sengupta) to emerge from the traditional female seclusion of purdah and introduces her to his old friend Sandip (Soumitra Chatterjee), a radical leader in the Swadeshi movement. Bimala is deeply affected by Sandip’s revolutionary fervor and experiences a profound political awakening that draws her out of her home and into the tumultuous world of Indian nationalism. The film is based on the novel Ghare Baire by Rabindranath Tagore, published in Bengali in 1916. In Bengali with English subtitles.



Photo credits: Kim (1950), MGM/Photofest © MGM; Shatranji Ke Khilari (1977), Creative/Photofest © Creative; The River  (1951), © Janus Films; Ghare Baire (1984), Classics/Photofest © European Classics.