The Guardian: 10 Classics of Indian Cinema, Decade by Decade

Posted: February 2nd, 2016

Among the few silent films that remain are three Indo-German co-productions that predate the arrival of the German technicians and directors who worked in the Bombay Talkies studio in the 1930s. The Light of Asia was shot in India but edited and processed in Germany and intertitled in English. The script was adapted from Sir Edwin Arnold’s epic poem The Light of Asia (1861) while the opening credits proclaim it was “Shown by Royal Command at Windsor Castle, April 27 1926” and that it benefited greatly from help offered by the Maharaja of Jaipur. The film shows westerners touring¬†India¬†(Mumbai, Delhi, Varanasi) who come to Bodh Gaya, the site of Gautam Buddha’s Enlightenment. An old man tells the story of the life of the Buddha, from his royal childhood to his death, allowing the film-makers to juxtapose Orientalist fantasies alongside fascinating, if anachronistic, images of Rajasthan in the 20s.

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