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The Householder

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The Householder

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
Unrated
performer:
Leela Naidu, Shashi Kapoor
director:
James Ivory
Producer:
Ismail Merchant
author:
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
genre:
Comedy, Drama

We gave it a B+

Unlike the lush, mannered social landscapes of their more recent collaborations (A Room With a View, Howards End), this first film from the production team of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory plumbs the simple. In The Householder, Shashi Kapoor (Sammy and Rosie Get Laid), who plays a hapless college professor forced into an arranged marriage with a woman (Leela Naidu) he barely knows, confronts the daily frustrations of a man unfulfilled by his minor existence. Browbeaten by his rowdy students and a hilariously self-important colleague, he berates his silent bride and calls in his mother to domesticate her. The archetypal triangle of nebbishy husband, persecuted wife, and histrionic mother-in-law lacks originality, but The Householder‘s portrayal of the idealistic, ”developing” India of the 1960s — through the farcical politics of the college staff and the surreal naïvetés of an international group of nirvana-seekers — fills that void with incisive political humor. Like this debut, Kapoor’s enlightenment comes not in a sweeping epiphany but as a series of small, sweet understandings. B+

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