Shiraz: A Romance of India is a 1928 silent feature film that has been painstakingly restored by the British Film Institute’s National Archives and is being showcased across four cities in India. A specially commissioned live film score will complement the screening of Shiraz by multi-Grammy nominated composer and musician Anoushka Shankar and an orchestral ensemble.
Shiraz is nearly 90 years old but the British Film Institute also holds films as far back as the 1890s. Having recently digitised over 250 films which include India on Film: 1899-1947, Treasures from the BFI National Archive is an unparalleled collection of extremely rare films which have survived the earliest days of cinema. The rare majestic beauty of a bygone era can be viewed by select audiences due to the curators painstaking efforts.
Despite their age, curators at the Institute say that the films were easier to restore due to their brevity. However silent films of the era have other complexities because they often lack any documents to dictate the speed they should be shown at. The restorers say the cultural value however is boundless, giving audiences a window into an unseen age and places which have since disappeared.
Shiraz tells the story of a 17th century princess who inspired the construction of one of the wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal. The film is beautiful, dramatic and has gorgeous locations to boot. The glories of the spectacular fort at Agra and the iconic Taj Mahal are the highlights of the movie. There are also some surprisingly passionate kissing scenes in the movie.
The cast of Shiraz: A Romance of India consists of Himansu Rai (Shiraz), Charu Roy (Prince Khurram/Emperor Shah Jahan), Enakshi Rama Rau (Selima/Empress Mumtaz Mahal), Seeta Devi (Dalia) and has been directed by Victor Peers. The movie is a British Instructional Films production. Weather you watch the movie out of curiosity of a by-gone era or simply for the aesthetic, the fact remains that Shiraz is a part of the fantastical record of the 20th Century.