Top 10 Movies on pre-Independence India
1. Shatranj Ke Khiladi
Based on: Munshi Premchand's novel by the same name
Screenplay & Direction: Satyajit Ray
Cast: Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Shabana Azmi & Amjad Khan
This is almost a docu-drama on Pre-1857 India; it shows how the docility of India's affluent upper middle class contributed to the establishment of the British Raj. Lucknow and its Nawab Wajid Ali Shah (an exemplary performance from Amjad Khan) provide the backdrop for the story of two chess-obsessed noblemen.
The film documents the sluggishness of Post-Mughal India, where Kings preferred poetry to diplomacy and the durbars witnessed more mushairas and mehfils than ministerial meetings.
Though a landmark in India's period film genre, 'Shatranj Ke Khiladi' is considered by most critics to be one of Ray's unimpressive works. It is remembered more for the voiceover done by Amitabh Bachchan than for the political insights it gave.
2. Jhansi Ki Rani
Producer/Director: Sohrab Modi
India's first technicolour film, 'Jhansi Ki Rani' was Sohrab Modi's dream-come-true project. He brought technicians from Hollywood to work on the SFX and battle sequences.
Mehtab, the star of the year, was cast in the title role. Modi essayed the role of the Raj Guru.
The film was received well by contemporary critics and it was applauded for "its authenticity in creating the right period and delineating historical events, its spectacular battle scenes and Mehtab's stirring performance though she is far too old for the role." There is a Ball sequence in the Jhansi palace, which was shot spectacularly by Modi.
In spite of the critical acclaim, the film fell flat at the Box-Office.
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