A company of nomadic actors travel across India performing Shakespeare, during the early days of post-colonial rule. When young troupe member Lizzie (Felicity Kendal) falls in love with a local playboy Sanju (Shashi Kapoor), the pair must overcome cultural differences and the scheming of fierce Indian film actress - and rival for Sanju’s affections - Manjula (Madhur Jaffrey).
Plaintive and haunting, Shakespeare Wallah was Merchant Ivory’s first international success. Shot by Satyajit Ray's cameraman, Subrata Mitra - and scored by Ray himself - the film is a delicate love story that sets the tone for so many of the partnership’s future collaborations.
Now newly restored in 2K, it remains a beguiling and multi-layered cinematic landmark.
New 2K restoration
The Guardian Lecture: Ismail Merchant and James Ivory (1983, 82 mins): the director and producer in conversation with David Robinson at the NFT
The Guardian Interview: Shashi Kapoor (1994, 54 mins, audio only): the actor in conversation with film critic Derek Malcolm at the NFT
Conversations from the Quad with James Ivory and Madhur Jaffrey (2018, 48 mins): the director and actor discuss working together
A Road in India (1938, 9 mins): Technicolor travelogue shot by award-winning cinematographer Jack Cardiff
Original trailer (1965)
Restoration trailer (2017)
**FIRST PRESSING ONLY** Fully illustrated booklet with writing by James Ivory and John Pym, an interview with Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, original review and full film credits