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With: Seeta Devi, Charu Roy, Himansu Rai
Written by: W.A. Burton, Max Jungk, based on a story by Niranjan Pal
Directed by: Franz Osten
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 74
Date: 03/18/2013

A Throw of Dice (1929)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The Golden Roll

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Kino released this amazingly fluid silent-era Indian feature, with a breathtaking use of open air, space and lots of extras. But the best part is the outstanding new score by Nitin Sawhney, which soars and sings in perfect conjunction with the film. With this and Abel Gance's La Roue, the age of the plunky piano score is dead. In the film, two kings, Ranjit (Charu Roy) and Sohan (Himansu Rai) rule adjacent kingdoms. Ranjit enjoys gambling with Sohan, but Sohan is forever looking for ways to eliminate his rival and claim both kingdoms for himself. Sohan attempts to kill Ranjit in a "hunting accident," but a wise hermit heals him and the hermit's beautiful daughter Sunita (Seeta Devi) falls in love with him. Now Sohan has two things to steal: the kingdom and the girl, so he sets up an even more elaborate and devious scheme involving trick dice. Running only 74 minutes, the film has the luxurious feel of an epic and it anticipates the energetic, passionate Bollywood movies to come. The director, Franz Osten, was German, although the story came from Indian-born Niranjan Pal.

DVD Details: Kino's DVD comes with an essay, stills and an interview with Sawhney (The Namesake, Lila Says).

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