Mumbai Film Festival Diaries: A Throw Of Dice

With Mumbai Film Festival diaries, InOnIt gives its readers a glimpse into the movies screened at this 5-day festival. We’ll watch movies and review them to update our diaries with our experiences. Below is our review of  A Throw Of Dice, a 1929 silent movie.


Director: Franz Osten

Cast: Seeta Devi, Himansu Rai, Chru Roy.


Silent movies have their own charm. It’s a remarkable on-screen presentation of visuals that take you back to an epoch where words were not required to convey the idea behind a shot.


The second day of Mumbai Film Festival saw the screening of the 1929 silent movie, A Throw Of Dice, directed by Franz Osten, the final movie in the trilogy of Indo-German productions between the director and Indian actor-producer Himanshu Rai.


It’s the black and white era for movies where A Throw Of Dice is narrating a simple story. The 74 minutes film is an account of two royal kings vying for the love of a beautiful girl. Their only weakness lies in their incessant gambling, which leads to the downfall of one. It’s an exotic story of King Sohat and King Ranjit who cross the path of Sunita, daughter of Kanwa, the hermit. Residing amidst a thick jungle surrounded by animals, the father-daughter duo meet the kings after King Sohat is injured from an arrow shot from King Ranjit’s crony that was aimed to kill him. A conspiracy gone wrong between King Ranjit and his loyal crony, the arrow fails to fatally wound King Sohat. This leads King Ranjit to set out to plot yet again as he sets to destroy his cousin’s kingdom and the new-found love between King Sohat and Sunita.


The story goes back and forth as King Sohat is blamed for actions that he didn’t commit and fights to come back as a clean slate. But when it seems like it’s the final fall for the king, the curiosity of a young child plays a vital role in re-storing his honour.


The story has traces of the ancient Hindu legend Mahabharata. A Throw Of Dice is a tale of greed, addiction to gambling, deceit and powerful kings and their loyal kingdoms. Shot in Rajasthan, Franz Osten has made use of the abundant open space and filled it with several extras and horses (around 10,000 extras and 1,000 horses were used on the set) and numerous elephants and tigers. Every scene brings out the royal charm of Rajasthan with beautiful shots of wide palaces and dense forests. Shot on a 35mm film, the camera captures the magnificence of the place.


The live orchestra present at the auditorium that filled the gap created by wordless scenes in the film, was a pleasure to look at. The combination of a silent movie backed up by a brilliant background score created through the wind from the instruments was a pleasant experience to the eyes and ears. The intense score created to add drama to scenes depicting grave situations were broken by the amusing recreation of Bollywood songs as the credits rolled.


Our first day at the Mumbai Film Festival 2012 saw us leaving the venue delighted. Watch the space for the review of the French movie, Rust and Bone that will be screened at Jamshed Bhabha Theatre on 20th October, 2012 at 6:00 pm.


To know what we thought about the Danish film, The Hunt, click here.


- Esha Chanda

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