A Throw of Dice

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Prapancha Pash (A Throw of Dice)
Charu Roy, and Seeta Devi in the 1929 film, Prapancha Pasha (A Throw of Dice), directed by Franz Osten.jpg
Charu Roy and Seeta Devi in the 1929 film Prapancha Pasha (A Throw of Dice)
Directed by Franz Osten
Produced by Nadine Luque
Tim Pearce
Himansu Rai
Bruce Wolfe
Written by W.A Burton
Max Jungk
Niranjan Pal (story)
Starring Seeta Devi
Himansu Rai
Charu Roy
Modhu Bose
Music by Willy Schmidt-Gentner
Nitin Sawhney (2006)
Cinematography Emil Schünemann
Distributed by (International) Fandango
(U.K) BFI (British Film Institute)
Release dates
16 August 1929
31 August 2007 (Re-release)[1]
Running time
74 min
Country Germany
British India
United Kingdom

A Throw of Dice (Prapancha Pash) is a 1929 silent film by German-born director, Franz Osten, based on an episode from the Indian epic The Mahabharata.[2]

Franz Osten made 19 films in India between 1926 and 1939, and the film formed the final part of a trilogy of Indo-German productions, between Franz Osten and Indian actor-producer Himanshu Rai, the other films being Prem Sanyas (1925) and Shiraz (1928). After a gap, Osten returned to India, and worked with Bombay Talkies formed by Rai. Soon, during the production of Kangan (The Bangle) in 1939, Osten, a member of the Nazi Party, was arrested by British colonial officials and held through to the end of the World War II.[3]

The film has been in the British Film Institute (BFI)’s archives since 1945, though rarely seen. In 2006, the film was digitally restored,[2] in honour of the 60th anniversary of Indian independence,[4] and re-released at the Luminato Festival, Toronto, Canada, on 13 June 2008, with a new orchestral score by British Indian composer, Nitin Sawhney.[5][6] The United States release occurred on 30 July 2008 during Grant Park Music Festival at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois.[7]

Plot summary[edit]

The movie is about two kings vying for the love of a hermit's daughter, the beautiful Sunita. The two kings, Ranjit and Sohan share a passion for gambling and decide to play a game of craps to determine who will marry Sunita. Sunita wishes to marry Ranjit. Ranjit loses the game to the nefarious Sohan and as a forfeit becomes his slave. Sunita soon uncovers the truth about Sohan's evil deeds and to escape punishment he hurls himself off a cliff into the rapids below. Ranjit and Sunita are reunited and married.


Upon its re-release in 2007, a New York Times review stated, "There’s hardly a frame in the 1929 film “A Throw of Dice” that doesn’t provide a surge of visual pleasure",[3] while a Guardian reviewer, Peter Bradshaw, called it, "a rare and fascinating gem".[4] The Observer reviewer, Philip French, termed it, "a remarkable silent movie".[8]


Seeta Devi and Charu Roy kissing each other

The second Indian film by Franz Osten is considered by many[who?] his greatest achievement. His previous film was Prem Sanyas, also known as The Light of Asia. The silent film was shot in black and white on 35mm film. It contains thousands of cast members and animals including 10,000 extras, 1,000 horses and scores of elephants and tigers. The film was shot on location in Rajasthan.[3]

Nitin Sawhney, composer of the new 2006 score, describes the film as "A cross between Chaplin, Cecil B. DeMille and an early Bollywood movie." On many occasions, it has been compared to a Cecil B. DeMille film for its levels of extravagance.

Nishat Khan, has composed a new orchestral score, to be premiered on 25 April 2013, as part of the 100 Years of Indian Film festival, at Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi. The composer (playing sitar and singing) will be accompanied by the Bollywood Orchestra.



External links[edit]