(aka "Prapancha Pash" or "Schicksalswurfel" or "Throw of the Dice")


directed by Franz Osten
United Kingdom/India/Germany 1929


Inspired by the gambling episode in the ancient Hindu epic The Mahabharata, this rare classic of Indian silent cinema tells of two kings who share a passion for reckless gambling, and for the same woman.

A Throw of Dice (Prapancha Pash) is the third film in a pioneering trilogy of silent films made through a unique partnership between German director Franz Osten and Indian actor-producer Himansu Rai, whose films combined documentary techniques with narratives derived from Indian myths and legends. After the beautiful Sunita nurses Ranjit back to health following dramatic events during a royal tiger hunt, his wicked rival Sohat persuades him to risk his kingdom and his love in a fateful game of dice.

Shot on location in Rajasthan, the film features over ten thousand extras and an impressive array of horses, elephants and tigers. Its star actors all had major careers in Indian cinema and remain legendary and much-loved figures. Rai stars in the role of nefarious Sohat, with Charu Roy as Ranjit, and Seeta Devi (the Anglo-Indian actress born Renee Smith) as Sunita.

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE

Theatrical Release: August 16th, 1929

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

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Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:13:31

4:3 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.67 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Silent (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 4:3

Edition Details:
• New filmed interview with Nitin Sawhney
• Fully illustrated booklet including: Essay by Indian film historian and critic Amrit Gangar
• Essay by filmmaker Asif Kapadia (The Warrior)

DVD Release Date: October 29th, 2007
Keep Case

Chapters 10



Here we have another outstanding release from the BFI of a film that might normally escape the radar of even the most dedicated cinephile here in the West. As the description from their website states, the film concerns the exploits of two princess, both in love with the same woman and both addicted to gambling. While I won't give too much away, the film avoids the clichés of a simplistic morality tale and instead creates a hybrid melodrama, action, and romance. The image on the disc looks astounding for a film that's now 80 years old. There are fine levels of grain and few scratches or other distortions.


The audio is crystal clear in Dolby Digital 2.0 and has a brand new score by Nitin Sawhney that uses traditional Indian music to great effect. The intertitle cards are in English, so there are no subtitles for the film itself (although the interview with Sawhney does have optional English subtitle), but since the film is a co-production between the UK, Germany, and India, I have no idea whether they are the original ones that accompanied the film. Finally, the disc comes with the sort of insightful booklet that we'd expect from the folks at BFI. It's wonderful to have this film on DVD and the disc is certainly recommended. Thanks for the work, BFI!

 - Brian Montgomery


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