The Merchant Ivory Productions film that put the names of James Ivory, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Ishmail Merchant on the movie map and that is based on the real life of Felicity Kendal's family. Touring in post-independence India, a troupe of English actors are struggling to bring the works of Shakespeare to the locals when one of their number, Lizzie Buckingham (Kendal), finds romance with Sanju a rich Indian playboy (Sashi Kapoor). But there are several obstacles in their way including the Indian actress Manjula (Madhur Jaffrey).
From the Back Cover
Elegaic and atmospheric, Shakespeare Wallah
, made in 1965, was the feature film that really put Merchant Ivory Productions on the international movie map, winning them great acclaim. It is now recognized as a classic.
Starring a young Felicity Kendal, Shashi Kapoor and Madhur Jaffrey, the films inspiration lies behind the real-life adventures of Felicity Kendals family as a traveling theatre troupe in India during the twilight days of English colonial rule. Essentially a culture-clash romance, which blends Shakespeare and British tradition with the emerging Indian pop culture, the film traces the developing relationship between Lizzie (Kendal), one of the members of the acting troupe, with Sanju (Kapoor), a wealthy Indian playboy. But their romance is beset by hindrances, not the least being the machinations of Manjula (Jaffrey), a fiery Indian cinema star, who is also in love with Sanju.
Jaffrey won the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival for her performance, and one of the greatest names of Indian cinema, director Satyajit Ray, provides the films musical score.