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The Dance of Shiva (1998)

In the trenches of the Western Front in 1915, a British army chaplain is forced to question his faith as he witnesses hundreds of Hindu soldiers risking their lives daily for the Empire.


Jamie Payne


Joseph Miller


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sanjeev Bhaskar ... Sgt. Bakshi
Kenneth Branagh ... Col. Evans
Julian Glover ... Gen. Willis
Paul McGann ... Capt. Greville
Samuel West ... Lt. Davis
Clare Burt Clare Burt ... Sister
Malcolm Ridley Malcolm Ridley ... Lt. Frewer
Wayne Cater Wayne Cater ... Cpl. Wright
Patrick Cash Patrick Cash ... British Gunner
Richard Christopher Richard Christopher ... Sgt. Allen
Stephan Erdman ... Gunner 1
Marshall Griffin ... Adjutant
Nayesh Radia Nayesh Radia ... Pvt. Velu
Robin Sebastian Robin Sebastian ... Capt. Oliver
Matthew Wolf ... Lieutenant Reichmann


In the trenches of the Western Front in 1915, a British army chaplain is forced to question his faith as he witnesses hundreds of Hindu soldiers risking their lives daily for the Empire.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Action | War | Drama







Release Date:

11 November 1998 (UK) See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Epiphany Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR


See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Great cast, polished production but politically correct, historically inaccurate apologism
10 April 2004 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

In the trenches of World War I, Chaplin Greville is placed in charge of the religious services for a unit that has English officers and Hindu soldiers serving together. He is initially unsure of how the men will work together - in particular how he can meet the religious needs of a group of savages who don't even know about God. However, in the trenches he is forced to see past his assumptions.

I was quite excited to see this as I had missed it a few years ago at a festival screening. The cast list alone was enough to draw my attention to it. I watched it a week or so ago when it was screened on television and I must admit that I was rather let down by it. The main failing is in the plot, it is not as interesting as the subject matter suggests it should be. The plot concentrates on the English more than the Hindus and this takes away from the supposed focus. It really should have done more to show one incident of sacrifice rather than trying to present a fuller picture in a short running time.

Aside from the specifics I found it annoying that the film simplified the history to make a film that seeks to apologise for the bad treatment that no one questions was dished out - however things did not happen like this. The Hindu soldiers deserve their story to be told, but they deserve a better film than this to do it. This main weakness makes the rest of the film even more wasteful - for the actual production is very good.

The cast is pretty good and features an early (and rare straight) role for Sanjeev Bhaskar, who does pretty well. The rest of the cast has quite a few big names in it (for a short) but they are not very well used. Branagh and McGann are both good actors but they have little to do. The production values of the film are also very high with a very realistic sense of time and place. The fact that this effort was put into a story that doesn't engage, doesn't resemble what really happened and is far too apologetic in nature rather than just letting the facts speak for themselves.

Overall, I am always willing to give any short film a try - whether it be student animation or an all star production, however this really needed more than a name cast and expensive production to draw me in. The history behind this story is far too interesting to be delivered in a manner such as this. I rarely say this about a short film, never mind a short film that had so much effort put in, but this film is not worth watching which is a shame because the production is good, the cast impressive and the actual story very worthy.

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