Kim (1984 film)

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Directed by John Davies
Produced by London Films
Written by Based on the novel Kim by Rudyard Kipling
Starring Ravi Sheth
Peter O'Toole
Bryan Brown
John Rhys-Davies
Julian Glover
Release date
  • 1984 (1984)
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Kim is a 1984 British television film directed by John Davies and based on Rudyard Kipling's novel Kim. The film stars Peter O'Toole, Bryan Brown, John Rhys-Davies, Nadira, Julian Glover, Jalal Agha, Raj Kapoor and Ravi Sheth in the title role.


Kim (Ravi Sheth) is a 13-year-old street orphan in Lahore of the 19th century (1894). Kim thinks he is native, but he's actually of British origin, the son of an Irish soldier and an unknown mother (unlike the novel on which it is based, Kim's mother is not portrayed as Irish, but it is made clear that Kim is white). Kim is hired as a guide by a travelling Tibetan lama (Peter O'Toole) on a search for a river where Budda hurled an arrow, turning it into a place of redemption. When he finds his father's regiment and the British military discover his origins and his real name, Kimball O'Hara, he's placed in an English college. His nature, however, is opposed to the regimentation expected for the son of a British soldier, and he rebels. His familiarity with Indian life and his ability to pass as an Indian child allows him to function as a spy for the British as they attempt to thwart revolution and invasion of India. Rejoining his holy man, Kim is trained by an Englishman called Babu (John Rhys Davies) to become a British spy and receives orders from a British Colonel (Julian Glover) who assigns him a risky mission in the "Great Game", the behind-the-scenes struggle between Imperial Britain and Russia for supremacy in Afghanistan and Central Asia. He also befriends an astute Afghan horse-dealer named Mahbub Ali (Bryan Brown), a British Secret Service agent, who helps him with his task.

Shooting and casting[edit]

The story is set in several locations filmed in India, as the Northern frontier, Lahore barracks, Bunar, Umbella barracks, Delhi, Shaharampoor and Indian mountains near the Himalayas for the final scenes of the fighting against Russian spies.

The screenplay was essentially close to Kipling's original; much more so than the 1950 movie with Errol Flynn, except for an added subplot about the love of a deserting Scottish soldier with an Indian girl. The ending is also slightly different from the original novel and for political correctness, some anachronistic snipes at the British Raj were inserted. The casting was also subject to controversy, with white actors playing local characters.

External links[edit]