Touring Shiraz 2010
Shiraz - (UK/Germany/India 1928)
Director: Franz Osten
Starring: Enakshi Rama Rao (Selima), Himansu Rai (Shiraz), Charu Roy (Emperor Shah Jehan), Seeta Devi (Dalia)
Live Score: Sabri Ensemble
The story behind the creation of the Taj Mahal is told in this product of early Indian cinema that uses documentary techniques to depict an epic subject. The result of a ground breaking East West collaboration, the film is accompanied by a live performance of the dynamic new score by Sarvar Sabri, originally commissioned by the Lichfield Festival. The Sabri Ensemble’s cross cultural line up creates a rich soundscape that seamlessly complements the original film, despite an eighty year gap in their conception.

Set in the 17
th century Mughal Empire, Shiraz tells the tale of an infant princess, found abandoned after bandits attack her family. Brought up by a poor potter unaware fo her true origins, Selima grows up to become a beautiful young woman and her adopted brother Shiraz falls in love with her. When she is abducted and sold as a slave to Prince Khurram, Shiraz goes in search and eventually finds her. Betrayed by a jealous princess, Selima and Shiraz are found together and he is condemned to death by elephant’s foot. At the last moment, Selima’s royal status is revealed; she saves her brother and marries the prince, becoming Empress Mumtaz Mahal. On her death, the emperor builds the Taj Mahal in her memory, ironically designed by the now old and blind Shiraz.
The Film
Shiraz is the second in a trilogy of films that were the result of a unique partnership between German director Franz Osten and Indian actor producer Himansu Rai. The two first met in 1924 when Rai travelled to Germany for the Oberammergau Passion Plays, looking for support to enable him to create an Indian equivalent. His visit coincided with a growing fascination in Europe with Indian culture, characterised by the collaboration between Uday Shankar and Anna Pavlova. Rai’s inspiration to make a series of religious epics for mass consumption struck a chord with Osten, who had founded a travelling cinema and pioneered documentary filmmaking techniques.

The result was a stunning trilogy, each film using thousands of extras, evocative locations and sumptuous photography. Shiraz was made in 1928 between The Light of Asia (1926) based on the life of Buddha and A Throw of Dice (1929), the story of the prince who gambles away everything from The Mahabharata. Worlds away from contemporary Bollywood cinema, it nevertheless influenced a generation of Indian filmmakers. It still inspires today, with screenings at international film festivals such as San Francisco in 2002 and Sydney in 2003 with live musical accompaniment.

Tour Dates & Venues

5 March 2010
Rich Mix, London
Box office: 020 7613 7498

16 May 2010
National Media Museum, Bradford

11 June 2010
National Centre for Early Music, York
Box office: 01904 632 220‎

22 June 2010
The Pound Arts Centre, Corsham, Wiltshire

7 August 2010
Edinburgh Mela

20 November 2010
Bath Film Festival

5 February 2011
Artsdepot, London
Box office:020 8369 5454

21 October 2011
Cannon Hill Park
Birmingham B132 0QH


Shiraz is available for performances during 2010-11
For more information, contact Kat Bailey on