A Throw of Dice

This rare classic of Indian silent cinema tells of two kings who share a passion for reckless gambling, and for the same woman.

“A cross between Chaplin, Cecil B. DeMille and an early Bollywood movie” – Nitin Sawhney.

Inspired by the gambling episode in the ancient Hindu epic The Mahabharata, this rare classic of Indian silent cinema tells of two kings who share a passion for reckless gambling, and for the same woman.

A Throw of Dice (Prapancha Pash) is the third film in a pioneering trilogy of silent films made through a unique partnership between German director Franz Osten and Indian actor-producer Himansu Rai, whose films combined documentary techniques with narratives derived from Indian myths and legends. After the beautiful Sunita nurses Ranjit back to health following dramatic events during a royal tiger hunt, his wicked rival Sohat persuades him to risk his kingdom and his love in a fateful game of dice.

Shot on location in Rajasthan, the film features over 10,000 extras and an impressive array of horses, elephants and tigers. Its star actors all had major careers in Indian cinema and remain legendary and much-loved figures. Rai stars in the role of nefarious Sohat, with Charu Roy as Ranjit, and Seeta Devi (the Anglo-Indian actress born Renee Smith) as Sunita.

The film is presented with a new full orchestral score by award-winning musician, producer and composer Nitin Sawhney, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Sawhney’s distinctive compositional style, steeped in both western and South Asian musical traditions, results in an evocative, lyrical soundtrack to this sumptuous film, transforming it into a fresh experience almost eighty years after it first opened.

Special features

  • New filmed interview with Nitin Sawhney.
  • Fully illustrated booklet including: Essay by Indian film historian and critic Amrit Gangar.
  • Essay by filmmaker Asif Kapadia (The Warrior).

Product information

    • Certificate

      U

    • Colour

      Black/white

    • Sound

      Silent with music

    • Running time

      74mins

    • Subtitles

      English on all extras

    • Original aspect ratio

      4:3

    • DVD region

      • 2 Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories

    • Catalogue number

      BFIVD734

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