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Filming FictionTagore, Premchand, and Ray$
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Mohd Asaduddin and Anuradha Ghosh

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780198075936

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198075936.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 March 2021

Decoding the Moves of Colonial Chess

Decoding the Moves of Colonial Chess

Premchand/Satyajit Ray's Shatranj Ke Khiladi

(p.211) Decoding the Moves of Colonial Chess
Filming Fiction

Shreya Bhattacharji

Oxford University Press

In his short story ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi’ (1924), Premchand uses the game of chess as a subtle politico-colonial metaphor. Known in its heyday as ‘Paris of the East’ and ‘Babylon of India’, Wajid Ali Shah's Lucknow symbolizes ‘decadent refinement’. In his film adaptation of the novel, Satyajit Ray depicts his luxury-intoxicated, chess-sedated noblemen friends as politically conscious, extremely aware of the insidious exploitative nature of the East India Company. Ray also portrays a self-indulgent Lucknow, but his tone is never judgemental. Both Premchand and Ray focus on elements of the spectacular that constitute the pulsating matrix of Wajid Ali Shah's Oudh. This chapter, with reference to ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi’, is an informed rendering of the politico-colonial metaphor of chess used as a game of power between the colonizer and colonized whereby it compares the experiences of colonization in select countries of Africa and Asia.

Keywords:   Satyajit Ray, Premchand, Shatranj Ke Khiladi, chess, Lucknow, Wajid Ali Shah, Oudh, East India Company, power, colonization

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