It begins with some background information that takes us back to colonial India circa the 1850’s. The Governor-General Lord Dalhousie has eaten all the cherries in India, as director Satyajit Ray says, except for the kingdom of Oudh. It’s here that two noblemen from that kingdom sit and play chess over and over again to the exclusion of everything else. Meanwhile around them, Richard Attenborough’s character sets in motion the inevitable takeover of Oudh by the British. Do the noblemen do anything? Of course not, they play chess.
And not just any chess, but the Indian version of chess. The differences are as follows: 1. The pawn can only move one square at all times, 2. The queen is the minister, 3. No pawn can be made minister for reaching the other side, 4. The ministers are not facing each other across the table. As the chess players friend says, the game has been sped up and taken up by the British.
|When They Lose Their Chess Pieces, They Visit A Friend To Borrow His|
|When The British Come, Move Somewhere Else To Play Chess|
The allegory and the film itself is rather obvious, but it still works well with humorous touches and the fact that Ray never cops out when it comes to the players. He follows them right through to the end. I recommend it.