Staying On (1981) TV

 

 

Director:  Silvio Narizzano

Starring:  Trevor Howard (Col. Tusker Smalley), Saeed Jaffrey (Frankie Bhoolabhoy), Fida Bai (Minnie), Ajit Saldanha (Joseph), Raj Bharti (Col. Tiny Menektara), Corina (Hot Chichanya), Dinoo Kotwal (Prabhu), Surehka Sikri as Susy Williams), Kiran Narker (Sashi), Vijay Sheikhupura Singh (Person at Holi Party), Colonel M.E. Michael (Person at Holi Party), Celia Johnson ( Lucy Smalley), Pearl Padamsee (Mrs Bhoolabhoy), Zia Mohyeddin (Ibrahim), Habib Tanvir ( Dr. Mitra), Sushma Seth (Codcod Menektara), Rinoo Chhoi (Mr Pandey), Dwarka Prashad (Acupuncturist), Shivendra Sinha (Father Sebastian), Phiroza Singh (Person at Holi Party), Malvika Singh (Person at Holi Party).

 

A British colonel and his wife decide to remain in India after the departure of the British in 1947. 

India 1972.  Colonel Smalley and his wife have stayed in India following Indian independence from Great Britain.  The Smalleys have had a good life in India.  At times during the movie it seems as if British colonialism was still going on.  They have a servant Ibrahim who still calls the Colonel saab and his wife memsaab.  And Ibrahim is still at their beck and call. (Mrs. Smalley actually rings an outside small hand-held bell to summonl him.)  He lives near the lodge at Smith's Hotel where the Smalleys reside. 

The Colonel is very upset with his landlady, Mrs. Bhoolabhoy.  He takes the position that it is the landlady's job to make sure his grass and garden are well-maintained.  It seems he is carrying on a little war with Mrs. Bhoolabhoy concerning these little things.  He is so upset that his wife has to engages in a bit of chicanery.  She has Ibrahim get a young man to do the gardening and grass mowing.  Mrs. Smalley will pay Ibrahim for Joseph's labor and he in turn pays Joseph.  But she warns Ibrahim that the Colonel must never know of the arrangement.  He must think that the new fellow is actually working for the landlady. 

Ibrahim uses the term "boy" with Joseph and gets balled out by his wife for using a demeaning used by the British toward the Indians.  But Ibrahim just tells Joseph that she is crazy and not to pay her any mind. 

Mr. Bhoolabhoy is a very nice fellow.  He is a good friend to the Smalleys.  He misses the old days when things were not so impersonal and reminisces about the good times he has had talking with the Colonel. 

Mr. Bhoolabhoy is henpecked by his wife.  She has become a real capitalist, investing in a consortium that owns several businesses in the area.  She, ownership, wants the Smalleys out and forces her husband, management, to write them a letter saying that their lease is up this coming July 1.  This is the last thing Mr. Bhoolabhoy wants to do, but his wife forces him to comply.  (She basically dictates the letter to him that is to be sent to the Smalleys.)

The letter has some very unpleasant effects on the Smalleys and the Bholabhoys. 

The movie is a charming, little story, but not much history.  It does have some relevance sociologically in that the old colonial ways still carried on a bit even after Indian independence. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

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