Shatranj Ke Khilari is a 1977 Indian film was written and directed by Satyajit Ray, based on Munshi Premchand’s short story of the same name. This is the first Hindi feature film of filmmaker Satyajit Ray and second being ‘Sadgati’- another adaptation of Premchand’s short story.
Amjad Khan plays the role of Wajid Ali Shah, King of Awadh, and Richard Attenborough plays the role of General James Outram. The film also features the actors Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Shabana Azmi, David Abraham, and Tom Alter, as well as Amitabh Bachchan as the narrator.
Shatranj ke Khilari’ has two parallel stories. One is about King Wajid Ali Shah, the last king of Oudh, and the other is about two aristocrat friends, Mirza Sajjad Ali and Mir Roshan Ali, who share a terrific obsession with the game of Chess (Shatranj).
Events in the story take place in the year 1824, in the city of Lucknow – capital of the state of Oudh, where patriotic values and national integrity have disappeared in the abyss of affluence. Three main characters are totally captivated by their own obsessions. King is obsessed with dances, poetry and music, completely ignoring administration.
Similarly Mirza and Mir, for their addiction of the game of Chess, ignore their homes and their wives. Wife, Mirza continually throws tantrums to make her presence felt, with little success; while the wife of Mir has sought refuge in an extra marital affair with a nephew.
Two stories run parallel. British administration, which has a treaty with the State of Oudh, on the grounds that the king is an incompetent administrator, and takes over reigns of Oudh. The King surrenders, without protest. On the other hand, two friends, who have to run away from the city, fearing that they would be compelled to fight for their country, after that they find a deserted and lonely place to play Chess. They engage into an argument, where Mirza taunts Mir about his wife’s However, their obsession with Chess is too much for any other feeling to take over.
It’s very symbolic if there are two games that will make you forget everything else and will become an addiction the they are the playing card games or chess