I think that this is one of the best films about Oudh and the British during the Raj.
As a Lucknowi I can assure you that the way of life depicted in this film is authentic. The slow pace and studied nonchalance of the two players is exactly - Nawabi Lucknow.
Rich beyond belief Avadh ( Oudh) was a kingdom that the British slavered for. They took it with guile and the impotence of the pleasure loving Nawab of Avadh ( Amjad Khan) to make any decision with regard to his kingdom. Khan brings the pained ringleted Nawab to life , nothing matters to him except the next dance move, the fleeting stanza of a poem.......
Sayeed jaffry & Sanjeev Kumar ARE the chess players and the nuances of their relationship as complicated & convoluted as that of the British & Lucknowis !
Richard Attenborough is effectual as an ineffectual Britisher. His attitude very much " I want it and therefore it is mine!" The moves within the film are slow and thoughtful , but it gives the viewer the time and space to consider the underlying emotions that eventually decide the outcome of this once peaceful though beleaguered kingdom.
What can I say about this Satyajit Ray film except that it is crafted with excellence as expected of him.
I would suggest that the person who views this film see 'Janoon'