A Throw of Dice (Prapancha Pash) is a 1929 silent film by German born director, Franz Osten, based on a episode from Indian epic Mahabharata .
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, Frank Ozten returned to India, and worked with Bombay Talkies formed by Himanshu Rai, though soon during the production of “Kangan” (“The Bangle”) in 1939, that Osten, a member of the Nazi party, was arrested by British colonial officials and held through the end of the World war II .
The film has been in the British Film Institute (BFI)’s archives since 1945, though rarely seen, in 2006 the film digitally restored , in honour of the 60th anniversary celebrations of Indian independence , and re-released in Luminato Festival, Toronto, Canada, on June 13, 2008, with a new orchestral score by British Indian composer, Nitin Sawhney.. The United States release occurred on July 30, 2008 during Grand Park Music Festival at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in .
Upon its re-release in 2007, a New York Times
review states, "There’s hardly a frame in the 1929 film “A Throw of Dice” that doesn’t provide a surge of visual pleasure."
, while a Guardian
reviewer, Peter Bradshaw
called it, "a rare and fascinating gem."
, the Observer
reviewer, Philip French
, termed it, "a remarkable silent movie"
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.
The second Indian film by Franz Osten
was is considered by many his greatest achievement. The previous film was Prem Sanyas
, also known as The Light of Asia
. The silent film was shot in black and white on a 35mm film. It contains thousands of cast members and animals including: 10,000 extras, 1,000 horses and scores of elephants and tigers and was shot in Rajasthan
Nitin Sawhney, composer of the 2006 new 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.