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Hooray for the ordinary guy!
LucBoardwalk12 December 2005
The Householder is a bit dated--filmed in the early 60s--but it bears a message that's rarely seen.

The movie begins with Prem and his young wife discussing a wedding they'll attend. At the wedding, Prem notices that the bride groom seems fretful. He tells the groom that there's nothing to worry about and proceeds to tell the story of his first year of marriage. His memories are shown in flashback and make up almost all of the rest of the movie.

Prem is married to Indu in an arranged marriage. The newlyweds have a difficult time adjusting to married life. Prem faces a host of problems--a low-paying job in which he's bullied by practically everyone, a drunken landlord, a contentious relationship between his mother and his new wife, and impractical advice from his best friend.

Along the way, Prem befriends the aptly-named Ernest, an American spiritual seeker. (Take note of what Ernest is doing when he's introduced--it's a really funny visual pun!) Prem has a lot to sort out, but in the end, he finds happiness.
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A Great Little GEM! Don't miss it!
DigIt27 April 2006
Well, only if you have some deep psychotic Indian adventure, you'll understand the actual conflict taking place in the main character (a Shashi Kapoor at his best!), as in one of the most typical themes found in the novels of Hermann Hesse: is the spiritual life so much different from the material life? In India as elsewhere too, people left kingdoms to become beggars and realize the Truth; in time some Saints demonstrated realization of the Highest cannot be a consequence of the manner this body lives. This theme is quite complex and convoluted, but here Ivory deals with it in such a fair and light manner; you may even feel to watch a neo-realistic movie, as the environments and characters are dealt with. Tender and at the same time raw, sometime even fun in its small tragedy... Very touching is the sequence when you hear some devotees singing a beautiful sacred Bhajan in the forest to a Saint looking so much as the late Shri J. Krishnamurti, who sings a couplet from Kabir's poetry...
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Charming Movie
Talking_Head20 February 2004
I saw this one a few years ago.Shashi Kapoor is at his charming best. This one is funny and poignant of the nuances in any marriage. Leela Naidu looks stunning in this movie. Durga Khote is the quintessential overbearing mom. Although a little predictive, anyone who likes Jane Austin and the likes will enjoy the movie.
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Indian Growing Pains
cunningpal9 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a touching story about the early days of a young married couple in mid-twentieth century Delhi. Prem Sagar is an inexperienced school teacher not much older than his students, underpaid and browbeaten by his superiors. His young wife, who hardly knows him because the marriage was arranged, is barely literate, lonely, and misses her young friends from her earlier years. The two newlyweds aren't getting along at all, so Prem sends for his mother to "help" his inexperienced and lackadaisical wife, with predictable results. Indu packs her things and returns to her own mother for awhile, while Prem dallies with the idea of taking up the religious life and following a local swami. What suffuses his face with a look of religious ecstasy, however, is the news that his wife has come back to him.

During Indu's absence, Prem meets an intense and exuberant young man from Pennsylvania, infatuated with Indian religion who, amusingly, can only talk of Indian spirituality, while Prem can only respond with remarks about India's burgeoning material progress. Ernest lives with two other Westerners in love with Indian culture, but the trio seems more like an Indian idea of such an eccentric group than the real thing.

The exterior and interior scenes of Indian life will appeal to those who may be familiar with R.K. Narayan's stories of India. Now we can actually see the streets, crumbling ruins, flowering trees, trains, sense the heat, look inside real Indian rooms, hear Indian poetry sung and how women and men talk to each other. A lot of the acting was good, with Durga Khote as the mother, Leela Naidu as Indu, and Shashi Kapoor outstanding. The DVD soundtrack was not good, and there should have been English subtitles. The meaning of some scenes could only be generally understood; the dialog wasn't comprehensible.
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A gem! go watch it
vijayarya5 September 2014
A English language Indian film thats simply superb!

A sweet story of a newly married couple set around 60's India. The movie makes you nostalgic, Shashi Kapoor is fantastic. The film is shot in the old delhi and I think the essence of it hasn't changed since then. The movie reminds you of a well made play. The film is very honest in terms of portraying the normal (yet interesting) life of a newly married couple.

I wish there were more Indian movies made like this. Its amazing, a film this old is actually so much more much better, funny, and enjoyable than a lot of the Bollywood movies made today.

Go watch it and relish life.
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James Ivory's excellent first film
robert-temple-18 August 2012
This is a very sensitive and well directed first film by James Ivory, made two years before his famous Shakespeare WALLAH (1965, see my review). Both films star Shashi Kapoor, who had already been acting for some time, as he was aged 25 by this time, though looked younger. The film is based upon a novel by Ivory's future long-term screen-writer collaborator, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, and she also wrote the screenplay. The cinematographer is Subrata Mitra, the brilliant cinematographer of Satyajit Ray's APU trilogy and numerous others of Ray's best and most famous films, and who was to work with Ivory again on Shakespeare WALLAH. There is no doubt that part of the reason for Ivory's early success was having Mitra at his side, and that the powerful camera work, framing, and lighting were essential to the mood and conviction of the films. Ismail Merchant was the producer, and the music of Ali Akbar Khan and three subsidiary composers is very powerful and evocative of mood as well. The film is made entirely in English. It is an extremely sensitive portrayal of a young Indian couple, living a traditional life on a small income, who have had an arranged marriage and are trying to get along with one another. The film shows how they begin by bickering and mutual annoyance, tinged with dislike, and gradually grow to love one another. It has often been said that Indian couples tend to fall in love after rather than before marriage, and if there be any truth in that, this film shows how it can happen. The young wife is played by the actress Leela Naidu (1940-2009), a beautiful young woman who was at one time Miss India and who had a wonderful acting talent. It is a pity she made so few films. This exquisitely sensitive performance may be her finest lasting testament. Kapoor plays a struggling young teacher, and there are some amazingly comic and poignant scenes in the school where he teaches. The story involves 'the mother in law from hell' turning up to live with the young couple. Brilliantly played by Durga Khote, this self-absorbed, bullying, intolerable creature tries her best to ruin the marriage. For an insight into life in India at this time, and to a large extent today as well, this film is uniquely informative and should be seen by anyone interested in the subject. There are so many fascinating characters, who are so wonderfully portrayed, such as a swami who sits in a grove of trees just like Prince Siddhartha the Buddha once did, and is frequented by people seeking wisdom. There are some crazy, phoney and annoying Americans seeking 'enlightenment', and Ivory, who was himself an American, must have had fun ridiculing those of his compatriots in India who most irritated him. Really, this film is a must-see for anyone interested in these things, and it is a genuine work of art. It heralded what was to turn into the brilliant joint cinematic careers of James Ivory, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, and Ismail Merchant, who together made many of the most memorable classic films in the entire history of world cinema, encompassing stories set in India, Britain, America, France, and Italy, and immortalizing many of the Henry James and E. M. Forster novels for the screen.
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The first Merchant/Ivory/Jhabvala collaboration
Red-12510 September 2011
The Householder (1963) was directed by James Ivory, produced by Ismail Merchant, and written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. This movie has a relatively simple plot, but in some ways the themes are universal. The well-know Indian actor Shashi Kapoor plays Prem Sagar, a young college professor who is bullied by his employer, his colleagues, and his students. His young wife, Indu, is portrayed by the beautiful Leela Naidu, a former Miss India. She is beset on all sides--by Prem's inadequate income, his comparisons of her cooking with his mother's superior cooking, and by what he perceives as his new wife's lack of intelligence and social skills. Then, to compound the problems, his mother (Durga Khote) comes to visit and dominates the lives of both young people.

Prem seeks advice from a friend to whom he looks for guidance, and from an American hippie, who takes him to visit a holy and virtuous man. The remainder of the plot consists of Prem's attempts to bring order and harmony to his life.

This film is almost 50 years old, shot in black and white, with low production values. It's worlds away (literally and figuratively) from the later Merchant/Ivory/Jhabvala movies. However, even if it's not slick, it has real merits and is worth seeking out and viewing.

We saw the movie on the TCM channel, as part of a series of Merchant/Ivory films. It worked well on the small screen. See it and judge for yourself.
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Charming Character Study
GypsiB22 April 2018
Prem (Shashi Kapoor), an immature young teacher recently married, is not happy with his even younger wife, Indu (Leela Naidu). She doesn't do things the way his mother does, is more outspoken than he would like, and neither of them have any idea of how to form a working relationship. In a fit of childishness, Prem telegraphs for his mother (Durga Khote) to come, and what seems to spell doom for the marriage, instead works an amazing change.

Based on the novel Gharbar by the movie's screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the Householder is a gentle, beautiful movie, with natural acting and a fully immersible plot. This Merchant Ivory Production was the pair's first collaboration, and yet it shows their now famous style fully formed from the beginning. This character study is a charming drama well worth watching.
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Prem Goes on a Spiritual Journey!!
kidboots27 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I read quite a few of Ms. Prawer Jhabvala's books when I was younger and I can especially remember liking "The Householder" about the trials and tribulations of a newly married teacher. For many years Shashi Kapoor was India's biggest star. Starting in 1956 as an 18 year old he was both actor and assistant stage manager for the "Prithvi Theatre". He was also one of India's first film stars to go international, becoming associated with James Ivory on "The Householder", Ivory's first directorial feature. Satyajit Ray, a legend of Indian film making also extended an important influence on the production, including the supervision of the music.

The film is told in flashback as Prem (Kapoor) offers his worldly reminiscences (he has been married a year!!!) to a despondent bridegroom he meets at a wedding.

Married life is very confusing to young Prem and not at all the way it was under his mother's roof - how he longs to return there!!! Indu (Leela Naidu is just enchanting, it is a pity she made so few films) is not tidy - his mother was "spick and span", she reads and what is worse, she has opinions. On top of this, he is a young teacher who cannot keep order in his own class room - going to work is a nightmare. Indu shames him in every way - when the principal invites the staff and their wives to a morning tea, she ignores the other wives as she is too busy eating!!! They are also very poor and find it hard to survive on Prem's low pay - of course he thinks she is extravagant!! Indu, on the other hand, can remember her childhood when her slightest wish was granted and good times were the order of the day.

When things look their bleakest (he now finds he is to be a father) he impulsively wires his mother. Too late!! by the time she has arrived he is already regretting sending for her but she still succeeds in turning the house upside down with her commands and complaints!! Shashi Kapoor excellently conveys the confused feelings of a young "householder". He asks advice from everyone he knows and starts to go on a spiritual journey to seek enlightenment. He becomes acquainted with a group of "new age" Americans - a professor, a young man and a free thinking older woman. They have come to India to experience "becoming", "cosmic energy" and "meditation" - they don't believe Indian's appreciate their own country. When Prem's wife leaves him, they have no answers as disillusionment on their part has already set in. Prem then turns to a Swarmi....

This is a lovely, relaxing movie to watch. A big surprise for me was to find the Professor was played by Walter King. Amazingly the same Walter Woolf King I had seen only a month or two previously in the 1935 Jane Wither's movie "Ginger".
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