A Passage to India
Directed by David Lean
Cast: Peggy Ashcroft, Judy Davis,
Victor Bannerjee, James Fox and Alec Guinness
Campus Classics Rating: 7/10
A move from the present to the past this week, I will guide your young minds to what our parents once used to love and watch. Today's review is on a beautifully cast movie based on E.M. Forster's classic novel 'A Passage to India' and is a deeply personal story of love and classic struggle in the 1920's India. In 1928, Adela Quested (Judy Davis) and Mrs. Moore (Peggy Ashcroft) leave England to visit Mrs. Moore's son Ronny (Nigel Havers) in India. While Ronny and the other English bureaucrats feel quite at ease in their bungalows, which are off-limits to Indians, Mrs. Moore and Adela feel deprived by their isolation. They want to see the "real" India. One evening Mrs. Moore wanders away from a dreadfully boring play at the British club and goes to see a nearby mosque. Her presence startles Dr. Aziz (Victor Bannerjee), a Muslim doctor, who had stopped there to rest after being snubbed by his British superior. In a gesture of respect, Mrs. Moore takes off her shoes in the mosque and this act has quite an effect on Dr. Aziz specially when she says she believes "God is here."
Later on, they see each other again at a tea party hosted by Richard Fielding (James Fox), the English headmaster of a college. He has also invited a Hindu pandit, Professor Godbole (Alec Guinness) in the party. Adela and Mrs. Moore have a wonderful time until Ronny appears and rushes them away. He disapproves of their mingling with the native Indians. During the party, Dr. Aziz had offered to take the ladies (Adela and Mrs. Moore on a sightseeing excursion to the Marabar Caves outside Chandrapore. The day becomes a turning point in British-Indian relations. Adela accuses the Muslim of trying to rape her. There are no witnesses, and despite Fielding's protests, Dr. Aziz is arrested and brought to trial. Will this mean the end of Dr. Aziz? Well…you have to watch the classic movie to know.
The original author exposed the Anglo-Indian problem as resulting from "an undeveloped heart" on the part of the British. However the movie, written and directed by David Lean, graphically depicts the racist and imperial attitudes of the English in colonial India. The key character in the story is Mrs. Moore (beautifully portrayed by Peggy Ashcroft, who won an Academy Award for this performance). She feels Dr. Aziz's innocence, criticizes her son's lack of character, respects Adela's flinty individualism, and understands Professor Godbole's vision of destiny. Nominated for 11 Academy Awards, this classic movie is definitely worth a watch!
(R) thedailystar.net 2006