THROW OF DICE (PRAPAANCHA PASH) (director: Franz Osten; screenwriters: W.A. Burton/Max Jungk/based on a story by Niranjan Pal; cinematographer: E. Schunemann; music: Nitin Sawhney; cast: Seeta Devi (Sunita), Charu Roy (King Ranjit), Himansu Rai (King Sohat), Modhu Bose (Kirkbar, King Sohat’s Henchman), Sarada Gupta (Kanwa, Sunita’s Father, the Hermit); Runtime: 74; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Himansu Rai; Kino; 1929-UK/Germany/India-silemt-in Hindi with English subtitles)
“The story itself is nothing special, but the lush jungle setting is magnificent and it gives the film a special feeling.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Rarely seen epic classic silent from India, that was recently restored by BFI and had added a musical score by Nitin Sawhney.German directorFranz Ostencollaborates with Indian authorNiranjan Palto give us an enjoyable melodrama, filmed entirely in India and set in ancient times (with a cast of a thousand extras and real animals), that features the odd blending of German expressionism with an Indian tale acted by an all-Indian cast. It’s derived from the Sanskrit poem “The Mahabharata,” and made to look like a pulp Western work. Osten later joined the Nazi party and lived in India, where he continued making films.
Two rival provincial kings,King Sohat (Himansu Rai) and King Ranjit (Charu Roy), who are compulsive gamblers, during a hunting party they have wagers on, encounter Sunita (Seeta Devi), the beautiful daughter of a healer named Kanwa (Sarada Gupta). The healer was a teacher in King Ranjit’s court, but left to become a hermit in the woods because he was upset with Ranjit’s gambling.
Both grasping kings fall for Sunita, which spells trouble. The scheming Sohat had his lackey (Modhu Bose) during the hunt try to kill Ranjit so he can take over his kingdom, but the healer saves his life. While nursing Ranjit back to health, Sunita falls in love with him and they marry against her father’s wishes. But Sohat doesn’t give up, and lures Ranjit into a rigged dice game.
The story itself is nothing special, but the lush jungle setting is magnificent and it gives the film a special feeling.
REVIEWED ON 7/26/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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