A Passage to India


2h 43m 1984
A Passage to India

Brief Synopsis

A false rape charge threatens British-Indian relations.

Film Details

Also Known As
En färd till Indien, Passage to India
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1984
Production Company
Completion Bond Company Inc; HBO Films; Optical Film Effects; Peerless Camera Company
Distribution Company
Bskyb; Columbia-Emi-Warner; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; Sony Pictures Releasing
Location
India; Lee International Studios, Shepperton, England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 43m

Synopsis

Tensions between Indians and the colonial British come to a boil when a white female tourist accuses a young Indian doctor of rape during a visit to caverns.

Crew

Rashid Abbasi

Unit Manager (India)

Eric Allwright

Makeup

Mohini Banerjee

Liaison (Delhi)

Elaine Bowerbank

Hairstyles

John Box

Production Designer

John Brabourne

Producer

Jim Brennan

Production Manager

Robin Browne

Visual Effects 2nd Unit (2nd Unit)

Robin Browne

Camera Operator 2nd Unit (2nd Unit)

Rosemary Burrows

Wardrobe Mistress

Patrick Cadell

Assistant Director

Jill Carpenter

Makeup

Michael A Carter

Sound Rerecording

Eleanor Chaudhuri

Other

Robin Clarke

Music Editor

John Dalby

Song ("Freely Maisie")

Ernest Day

Dp/Cinematographer

Ernest Day

Director Of Photography

Christopher Figg

Assistant Director

Roy Ford

Camera Operator

E M Forster

Source Material (From Novel)

Eddie Fowlie

Other

Eddie Fowlie

Props

Richard Goodwin

Producer

Shama Habibullah

Production Manager

Graham V Hartstone

Sound Recording

Diana Hawkins

Publicist

Bert Hearn

Props (United Kingdom)

John Heyman

Co-Producer

Kees't Hooft

Assistant Editor

Maurice Jarre

Music Conductor

Maurice Jarre

Music

Priscilla John

Casting

Jack T Knight

Sound Effects Editor

Ajit Kumar

Assistant Director

Nick Laws

Assistant Director

David Lean

Screenwriter

David Lean

Editor

Nicolas Lemessurier

Sound Rerecording

Richard Lewzey

Sound Recording

Archie Ludski

Sound Editor (Dialogue)

Barrie Melrose

Production Supervisor

John W. Mitchell

Sound Recording

Vera Mitchell

Hairstyles

Judy Moorcroft

Costume Designer

Keith Morton

Wardrobe Master

Eunice Mountjoy

Associate Editor

P N Parthasarathy

Government Liaison (India)

Pat Pennelegion

Production Assistant

Santha Rama Rau

Play As Source Material ("A Passage To India")

Germinal Rangel

Other

Cliff Robinson

Art Direction

Arundhati Roy

Assistant Director

Winston Ryder

Sound Editor

Edward Sands

Co-Producer

Hugh Scaife

Set Decorator

Anne Sopel

Assistant Editor

Lionel Strutt

Sound Recording

Leslie Tomkins

Art Direction

Maggie Unsworth

Script Supervisor

Herbert Westbrook

Art Direction

Ram Yedekar

Art Direction

Videos

Movie Clip

Passage To India, A (1984) - God Is Here Indian local doctor in training Aziz (Victor Banerjee), stranded when his ride is hijacked by oblivious English ladies, drops by a mosque where he’s surprised first by Mrs. Moore (Peggy Ashcroft, who was recommended for the role by novelist E.M. Forster), then by her gracious attitude, in David Lean’s A Passage To India, 1984.
Passage To India, A (1984) - Chandrapore 12 A scene not from the E.M. Forster but from director David Lean’s derived screenplay, working on location, Adela (Judy Davis) has just decided against marrying her fiancè, the magistrate she’s come to India to visit, and undertakes a bicycle ride, wild with suggestion, in A Passage To India, 1984.
Passage To India, A (1984) - I Thought She Was A Ghost Adela (Judy Davis), visiting from England and determined to experience something of the “real India,” is conversing with Dr. Aziz (Victor Banerjee) and scholar Professor Godbole (Alec Guiness) when her fiancè, colonial judge Ronny (Nigel Havers) appears, finding everything inappropriate, in David Lean’s A Passage To India, 1984.
Passage To India, A (1984) - The Viceroy's On Board Director David Lean’s screenplay takes a predictably cinematic grip on the E.M. Forster novel, introducing Judy Davis as Adela Quested in1920’s London, Peter Hughes the P&O man, Peggy Ashcroft, as Mrs. Moore, mother of her betrothed, opening A Passage To India, 1984.
Passage To India, A (1984) - I Give Any Englishman Two Years Director David Lean finishes the train journey to fictional interior Chandrapore, introducing Nigel Havers as colonial official Ronny, greeting his mother (Peggy Ashcroft), his betrothed Adela (Judy Davis), his boss (Richard Wilson), then two locals central to the E.M. Forster story, Victor Banerjee and Art Malik, in A Passage To India, 1984.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
En färd till Indien, Passage to India
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1984
Production Company
Completion Bond Company Inc; HBO Films; Optical Film Effects; Peerless Camera Company
Distribution Company
Bskyb; Columbia-Emi-Warner; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; Sony Pictures Releasing
Location
India; Lee International Studios, Shepperton, England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 43m

Award Wins

Best Score

1984

Best Supporting Actress

1984
Peggy Ashcroft

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1984
Judy Davis

Best Adapted Screenplay

1984

Best Art Direction

1984
John Box

Best Cinematography

1984

Best Costume Design

1984
Judy Moorcroft

Best Director

1984
David Lean

Best Editing

1984
David Lean

Best Picture

1984

Best Sound

1984

Articles

A Passage to India


A New York Times film critic Vincent Canby wrote in 1985, "A Passage to India is the kind of movie that people think they are talking about when they insist that 'they'-meaning Hollywood in the generic sense-don't make movies the way they used to." Indeed, it is an epic echo to the way movies used to be made, as demonstrated by director David Lean's own previous epics, such as Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Based on the novel by E. M. Forster, the film is set in colonial India in 1924. Adela Quested (Judy Davis), a sheltered, well-bred British woman, travels to the subcontinent to visit her fiancé, a British magistrate posted in a small town; her traveling companion is his mother Mrs. Moore (Peggy Ashcroft). They arrive in the fictional town of Chandrapore, and soon wish to escape the trappings of colonial Britain and hope to experience the sensual sights and the sounds of "the real India". Soon, Adela and Mrs. Moore meet and befriend Dr. Aziz (Victor Banerjee), who, despite longstanding racial and social taboos, moves with relative ease and freedom amongst highborn British circles. Feeling comfortable with Adela, Aziz invites her and Mrs. Moore to accompany him on a visit to the Marabar caves. Leaving an overcome Mrs. Moore behind, Aziz and Adela climb a mountain to reach a more forbidden part of the caves. What happens in the mystical caves touches off a mystery that implicates Aziz in a shameful crime, and brings to light the shameful hypocrisy and racism prevalent in the ruling British class.

Forster's complicated novel had long been targeted by filmmakers as excellent source material. In 1958, producer John Brabourne wrote E.M. Forster to inquire about securing the screen rights. Forster flatly refused, underscoring what some historians have considered to be Forster's deep dislike and distrust of the cinema. Brabourne wrote, "He had a strong suspicion that even if he found someone worthy of trust to make the adaptation, control would be wrested away from that person by others of lesser integrity." Furthermore, Forster was afraid that a film version of his story would come across as either pro-British or pro-Indian. Finally, in 1969, Forster relented, but he passed away before the deal could be signed. The executor of Forster's literary property, Donald A. Parry, the master of King's College, Cambridge, also shared an intense disregard of the movies. This intellectual thumbing of the nose deep-sixed several attempts to bring Forster's novel to the screen, including attempts by Joseph Losey, Ismail Merchant and James Ivory. But then in 1980, Professor Bernard Williams-a film buff-became provost of King's College in 1980, and channels were finally cleared for a proper cinematic adaptation. (A theatrical version of A Passage to India, written by Santha Rama Rau, was previously adapted for television by the BBC in the mid-1970s.)

Enter David Lean. The Academy Award-winning director had wanted to bring Forster's novel to the screen himself, but he too could not get the rights. Fortunately for Lean, Brabourne had the legendary director in mind when the producer secured the rights himself. Lean promptly began the task of pulling together a working shooting script. With Lean's longtime screenwriting collaborator, Robert Bolt, too ill to write, Lean took it upon himself to write the script. Santha Rama Rau, the playwright who wrote the play A Passage to India, had the backing of the Forster estate and a completed draft in hand when Lean took the job. But Rau's draft was unacceptable to Lean. It was too stagy and wordy, the work of an "amateur," Lean said. Moreover, much of Rau's draft took place indoors and Lean obviously wanted to take advantage of the sumptuous Indian landscape. So once Lean began taking liberties with Forster's novel (there are a few key scenes that Lean invented for the story, such as Adela's bicycle ride), Rau was eager to have her name removed as the screenwriter. Still, A Passage to India is credited as having been based on Forster's novel and Rau's play. Lean spent six months writing the script at the Maurya Sheraton Hotel in New Delhi, then another three months in Zurich. Lean typed out the entire screenplay himself with two fingers, using a hunt-and-peck method that he said allowed him considerable time to truly contemplate the direction of the story as he went along.

Meanwhile, producers John Brabourne and Richard Goodwin made a passage to Hollywood to raise financing for Lean's adaptation. They were met with a chorus of yawns. The bosses at the major studios were genuinely wary of handing millions of dollars to an aging director whose last film, Ryan's Daughter (1970), was an infamous financial and critical disaster. Moreover, the studio bosses were of the mindset that the big budget costume drama was no longer in vogue. As Lean recalled, "Everybody said, 'This is a good art house film,'" meaning that it had limited commercial potential. One studio executive said he'd do it if Lean put an explicit rape scene in the screenplay, an inclusion that would ruin the central mystery of the story. Another studio boss sent Lean a memo saying, "Our audiences are young people; young people are bored by old people. Cut the old dame," meaning Mrs. Moore, Peggy Ashcroft's character. Fortunately, the producers were able to find funding for $17.5 million by three principal investors. Columbia Pictures bought the American distribution rights, with Columbia's new partner Home Box Office (HBO) ponying up the cash for the television rights. Thorn-EMI, an English conglomerate, bought the British distribution rights.

With the script and financing in place, Lean turned to casting. For Mrs. Moore, Lean wanted Peggy Ashcroft, a veteran actress of British cinema. E.M. Forster himself once told Ashcroft, "I hope one day you will play Mrs. Moore." But Ashcroft was not eager to spend a lengthy shoot in India. She was worn out from having just returned from India, where she had spent several months filming The Jewel in the Crown, a fifteen-hour miniseries for British television. But after Alec Guinness leaned on Ashcroft to accept, and Lean refused to take no for an answer, Ashcroft gave in. One actor who did not give in was Peter O'Toole; David Lean had him in mind for the supporting role of Richard Fielding, the headmaster of the local school. Unable to forget the grueling months he spent with Lean in the desert heat for the unforgettable Lawrence of Arabia, O'Toole took a pass at spending several months sweating during an Indian summer. Esteemed British actor James Fox was eventually cast as Fielding (a character based on E.M. Forster). Victor Banerjee, a popular fixture in Indian films like The Chess Players (1977), was cast in the pivotal role of Dr. Aziz, a local physician and surgeon who is both impressed and repulsed by British colonial rule.

Two cast members shared something in common: both were painful thorns in David Lean's side. Judy Davis, the Australian actress chosen to play Adela, clashed often with Lean while on location. Davis found the experience of taking direction from Lean deeply unsatisfactory. "He made me feel inadequate initially and, I thought, unfairly...He was very nervous about making that film; he hadn't made one for so long." Also, Davis doubted that Lean could direct women. Lean suggested that she see Celia Johnson's performance in Brief Encounter (1945) for his assured feminine hand. Davis was right on the point that Lean was a bit rusty, but he had always been tough on his actors, dating back even to The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). Just ask Alec Guinness. He and Lean had made several pictures together, and on just about every one of those productions, director and star fought bitterly. A Passage to India was no exception. Cast as the Indian mystic Professor Godbhole, Guinness complained that his Indian makeup made him look like "an old turkey for sale." Guinness also no longer had the patience to put up with Lean's typical perfectionism, and was apt to say so, which only served to irritate and undermine the director. Another bone of contention was an intricate Hindu temple dance that Guinness carefully and dutifully rehearsed and filmed. It was to be placed during the closing credits of the film, but Lean ended up putting it on the cutting room floor.

A Passage to India went on to become an enormous commercial and critical success in America and in Europe. The picture received eleven Academy Award nominations. Lean himself was nominated in three categories, Best Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Director. Other nominations were for Judy Davis (Best Actress), Ernest Day (Best Cinematography), John Box (Best Production Design), John Mitchell (Best Sound), and Judy Moorcroft (Best Costume). The film garnered two wins: for Best Supporting Actress (Peggy Ashcroft) and Best Score (Maurice Jarre). "I was terribly pleased," said Lean of the film's multiple Oscar® nominations. "It was terribly encouraging. That gave me a new lease on life." Lean began to mount a new film, based on Joseph Conrad's classic British novel Nostromo, but the director died in 1991. A Passage to India became his fitting epitaph.

Producer: John Brabourne, Richard B. Goodwin, John Heyman, Edward Sands
Director: David Lean
Screenplay: David Lean, E.M. Forster (novel), Santha Rama Rau (play)
Cinematography: Ernest Day
Film Editing: David Lean
Art Direction: Clifford Robinson
Music: John Dalby, Maurice Jarre
Cast: Judy Davis (Adela Quested), Victor Banerjee (Dr. Aziz H. Ahmed), Peggy Ashcroft (Mrs. Moore), James Fox (Richard Fielding), Alec Guinness (Professor Godbhole), Nigel Havers (Ronny).
C-163m. Letterboxed.

by Scott McGee
A Passage To India

A Passage to India

A New York Times film critic Vincent Canby wrote in 1985, "A Passage to India is the kind of movie that people think they are talking about when they insist that 'they'-meaning Hollywood in the generic sense-don't make movies the way they used to." Indeed, it is an epic echo to the way movies used to be made, as demonstrated by director David Lean's own previous epics, such as Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Based on the novel by E. M. Forster, the film is set in colonial India in 1924. Adela Quested (Judy Davis), a sheltered, well-bred British woman, travels to the subcontinent to visit her fiancé, a British magistrate posted in a small town; her traveling companion is his mother Mrs. Moore (Peggy Ashcroft). They arrive in the fictional town of Chandrapore, and soon wish to escape the trappings of colonial Britain and hope to experience the sensual sights and the sounds of "the real India". Soon, Adela and Mrs. Moore meet and befriend Dr. Aziz (Victor Banerjee), who, despite longstanding racial and social taboos, moves with relative ease and freedom amongst highborn British circles. Feeling comfortable with Adela, Aziz invites her and Mrs. Moore to accompany him on a visit to the Marabar caves. Leaving an overcome Mrs. Moore behind, Aziz and Adela climb a mountain to reach a more forbidden part of the caves. What happens in the mystical caves touches off a mystery that implicates Aziz in a shameful crime, and brings to light the shameful hypocrisy and racism prevalent in the ruling British class. Forster's complicated novel had long been targeted by filmmakers as excellent source material. In 1958, producer John Brabourne wrote E.M. Forster to inquire about securing the screen rights. Forster flatly refused, underscoring what some historians have considered to be Forster's deep dislike and distrust of the cinema. Brabourne wrote, "He had a strong suspicion that even if he found someone worthy of trust to make the adaptation, control would be wrested away from that person by others of lesser integrity." Furthermore, Forster was afraid that a film version of his story would come across as either pro-British or pro-Indian. Finally, in 1969, Forster relented, but he passed away before the deal could be signed. The executor of Forster's literary property, Donald A. Parry, the master of King's College, Cambridge, also shared an intense disregard of the movies. This intellectual thumbing of the nose deep-sixed several attempts to bring Forster's novel to the screen, including attempts by Joseph Losey, Ismail Merchant and James Ivory. But then in 1980, Professor Bernard Williams-a film buff-became provost of King's College in 1980, and channels were finally cleared for a proper cinematic adaptation. (A theatrical version of A Passage to India, written by Santha Rama Rau, was previously adapted for television by the BBC in the mid-1970s.) Enter David Lean. The Academy Award-winning director had wanted to bring Forster's novel to the screen himself, but he too could not get the rights. Fortunately for Lean, Brabourne had the legendary director in mind when the producer secured the rights himself. Lean promptly began the task of pulling together a working shooting script. With Lean's longtime screenwriting collaborator, Robert Bolt, too ill to write, Lean took it upon himself to write the script. Santha Rama Rau, the playwright who wrote the play A Passage to India, had the backing of the Forster estate and a completed draft in hand when Lean took the job. But Rau's draft was unacceptable to Lean. It was too stagy and wordy, the work of an "amateur," Lean said. Moreover, much of Rau's draft took place indoors and Lean obviously wanted to take advantage of the sumptuous Indian landscape. So once Lean began taking liberties with Forster's novel (there are a few key scenes that Lean invented for the story, such as Adela's bicycle ride), Rau was eager to have her name removed as the screenwriter. Still, A Passage to India is credited as having been based on Forster's novel and Rau's play. Lean spent six months writing the script at the Maurya Sheraton Hotel in New Delhi, then another three months in Zurich. Lean typed out the entire screenplay himself with two fingers, using a hunt-and-peck method that he said allowed him considerable time to truly contemplate the direction of the story as he went along. Meanwhile, producers John Brabourne and Richard Goodwin made a passage to Hollywood to raise financing for Lean's adaptation. They were met with a chorus of yawns. The bosses at the major studios were genuinely wary of handing millions of dollars to an aging director whose last film, Ryan's Daughter (1970), was an infamous financial and critical disaster. Moreover, the studio bosses were of the mindset that the big budget costume drama was no longer in vogue. As Lean recalled, "Everybody said, 'This is a good art house film,'" meaning that it had limited commercial potential. One studio executive said he'd do it if Lean put an explicit rape scene in the screenplay, an inclusion that would ruin the central mystery of the story. Another studio boss sent Lean a memo saying, "Our audiences are young people; young people are bored by old people. Cut the old dame," meaning Mrs. Moore, Peggy Ashcroft's character. Fortunately, the producers were able to find funding for $17.5 million by three principal investors. Columbia Pictures bought the American distribution rights, with Columbia's new partner Home Box Office (HBO) ponying up the cash for the television rights. Thorn-EMI, an English conglomerate, bought the British distribution rights. With the script and financing in place, Lean turned to casting. For Mrs. Moore, Lean wanted Peggy Ashcroft, a veteran actress of British cinema. E.M. Forster himself once told Ashcroft, "I hope one day you will play Mrs. Moore." But Ashcroft was not eager to spend a lengthy shoot in India. She was worn out from having just returned from India, where she had spent several months filming The Jewel in the Crown, a fifteen-hour miniseries for British television. But after Alec Guinness leaned on Ashcroft to accept, and Lean refused to take no for an answer, Ashcroft gave in. One actor who did not give in was Peter O'Toole; David Lean had him in mind for the supporting role of Richard Fielding, the headmaster of the local school. Unable to forget the grueling months he spent with Lean in the desert heat for the unforgettable Lawrence of Arabia, O'Toole took a pass at spending several months sweating during an Indian summer. Esteemed British actor James Fox was eventually cast as Fielding (a character based on E.M. Forster). Victor Banerjee, a popular fixture in Indian films like The Chess Players (1977), was cast in the pivotal role of Dr. Aziz, a local physician and surgeon who is both impressed and repulsed by British colonial rule. Two cast members shared something in common: both were painful thorns in David Lean's side. Judy Davis, the Australian actress chosen to play Adela, clashed often with Lean while on location. Davis found the experience of taking direction from Lean deeply unsatisfactory. "He made me feel inadequate initially and, I thought, unfairly...He was very nervous about making that film; he hadn't made one for so long." Also, Davis doubted that Lean could direct women. Lean suggested that she see Celia Johnson's performance in Brief Encounter (1945) for his assured feminine hand. Davis was right on the point that Lean was a bit rusty, but he had always been tough on his actors, dating back even to The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). Just ask Alec Guinness. He and Lean had made several pictures together, and on just about every one of those productions, director and star fought bitterly. A Passage to India was no exception. Cast as the Indian mystic Professor Godbhole, Guinness complained that his Indian makeup made him look like "an old turkey for sale." Guinness also no longer had the patience to put up with Lean's typical perfectionism, and was apt to say so, which only served to irritate and undermine the director. Another bone of contention was an intricate Hindu temple dance that Guinness carefully and dutifully rehearsed and filmed. It was to be placed during the closing credits of the film, but Lean ended up putting it on the cutting room floor. A Passage to India went on to become an enormous commercial and critical success in America and in Europe. The picture received eleven Academy Award nominations. Lean himself was nominated in three categories, Best Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Director. Other nominations were for Judy Davis (Best Actress), Ernest Day (Best Cinematography), John Box (Best Production Design), John Mitchell (Best Sound), and Judy Moorcroft (Best Costume). The film garnered two wins: for Best Supporting Actress (Peggy Ashcroft) and Best Score (Maurice Jarre). "I was terribly pleased," said Lean of the film's multiple Oscar® nominations. "It was terribly encouraging. That gave me a new lease on life." Lean began to mount a new film, based on Joseph Conrad's classic British novel Nostromo, but the director died in 1991. A Passage to India became his fitting epitaph. Producer: John Brabourne, Richard B. Goodwin, John Heyman, Edward Sands Director: David Lean Screenplay: David Lean, E.M. Forster (novel), Santha Rama Rau (play) Cinematography: Ernest Day Film Editing: David Lean Art Direction: Clifford Robinson Music: John Dalby, Maurice Jarre Cast: Judy Davis (Adela Quested), Victor Banerjee (Dr. Aziz H. Ahmed), Peggy Ashcroft (Mrs. Moore), James Fox (Richard Fielding), Alec Guinness (Professor Godbhole), Nigel Havers (Ronny). C-163m. Letterboxed. by Scott McGee

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

The United Kingdom

Released in United States December 1984

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1984

Screenwriter and production designer Arundhati Roy, who worked as an assistant director on this project, marked her debut as a novelist in 1997 with the best-selling "The God of Small Things," winner of Britain's top literary award, the prestigious Booker Prize.

Completed shooting in 1984.

Released in United States December 1984

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1984