‘I Am Manjula!’ In Praise Of The Ultimate Indian Diva

Sunday, 12 November 2017, 12:31:31 AM. Manjula graces a friend’s Facebook page, chin in hand, eyes in kohl, “bored but fantastic,” as my friend says of the glamorous Sixties screen villain....
Manjula graces a friend’s Facebook page, chin in hand, eyes in kohl, “bored but fantastic,” as my friend says of the glamorous Sixties screen villain. Last week I met Madhur Jaffrey, the Indian actress who played Manjula all those years ago, in her East Village apartment. Shakespeare Wallah, the film to which we owe both female icons, airs in high definition this month in select U.S. theaters. The 1965 Merchant Ivory production marked a time of hope for its key players, who’d all go on to major careers. “I wanted to be Marlon Brando,” Jaffrey told me, sitting upright on a couch. Born in 1933 in Delhi, she’d made her way to America by her twenties, led by a love of acting and of a man. Her first husband, Saeed Jaffrey, won a Fulbright to study drama that ultimately landed the couple in Manhattan in 1958; Madhur herself had already graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Madhur’s birth and departure from India bookended the fall of the British Raj, and in the world of British theater, she found herself drawn to others linked to the subcontinent, a sort of Anglo-Indian Brat Pack, led by director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant, and writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. This “three-headed monster,” as Merchant once called the trio, would make Shakespeare Wallah and two dozen more films, including A Room With a View, Howard’s End, and The Remains of the Day. Shakespeare Wallah tracks a love triangle, between Lizzie Buckingham, played by British actress Felicity...Read more
Share this

You might also like

Similar