A Passage in India

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As I have previously written in Man Thinking, the phrase A Passage to India is originally from a Walt Whitman poem.

A Passage to India is a 1984 epic historical drama film written, directed and edited by David Lean. The screenplay is based on the 1960 play of the same name by Santha Rama Rau, which was in turn based on the 1924 novel of the same name by E. M. Forster. Receiving praise as Lean’s finest since Lawrence of ArabiaA Passage to India received eleven nominations (and. won two) at the 57th Academy Awards.

Leaving Taj ManSingh, on a quiet and pleasant Sunday morning, having met Ajay Kalra a few days earlier (for the first time since 2008, as he was con-incidentally visiting his parents as well),  I drove through wonderful parts of New Delhi – Chanakyapuri, among them, where I had lived for many years – to Terminal 3 (and the driver unhelpfully😏 mentioned that the Terminal 4 we were just passing was for Private Jets, if only I knew this before, maybe next time!) anticipating a chaotic, crowded and long wait to get through security, only to be amazed that, the time between getting off the car to be at the gate area was less than 7 minutes!

And if that was not an unexpectedly positive surprise, the Gate area was distinctly enjoyable: A nice book store (couldn’t resist skimming Insatiable and Energize Your Mind), Starbucks (where the Indian Barista mis-spelled my name!). This is not the India I remember from even seven years back when I last made a trip to Chennai from New Delhi, and nothing like the India portrayed not only in A Passage to India, but also in the documentary (made in 2021, about their trip to India in the 1960s) I saw on the British Airways flight (from Heathrow to Indira Gandhi):

The Beatles and India.

Talking about documentaries, I received this email from Laura Davis:

Hi Sridhar,

Pleased to share that Virulent: The Vaccine War is streaming for the next ten days:  https://watch.showandtell.film/watch/virulentdocumentary

The event is sponsored by Science-Based Medicine, a nonprofit co-founded by Dr. Steven Novella, the Yale-based neurologist who wrote the best-selling “The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe.”  Hope you will share with your readers and friends.

Here are links to two social media clips which can be embedded.  The first features Pgh’s Dr. Todd Wolynn and NYT columnist Kevin Roose:



Beyond Passage and Lawrence, here are two more of David Lean’s movies that I recall seeing in my youth:

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 epic war film directed by David Lean and based on the 1952 novelwritten by Pierre Boulle. The film won seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture) at the 30th Academy Awards.

Doctor Zhivago is a 1965 epic historical romance film directed by David Lean with a screenplay by Robert Bolt, based on the 1957 novel by Boris Pasternak. The story is set in Russia during World War Iand the Russian Civil War. The film stars Omar Sharif in the title role. Doctor Zhivago won five Oscars: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. It was nominated for five others (including Best Picture and Best Director), but lost four of these five to The Sound of Music.

My favorite Omar Sharif movie:

MacKenna’s Gold.

Landing in Chennai, it was wonderful to return to IITM – with lights at the entrance being set up for the upcoming Republic Day celebration –  stay at the Bose-Einstein Guest House, give the opening talk the next morning – Quantum Operations Research: Applications, Hardware, Algorithms – listen to many informative talks (including one from a very innovative startup AcceleQuant), spend the next afternoon at the Department of Management Studies, walk around campus (passing spotted deer and monkeys ☺️) recalling all the movies that I saw at the OAT, going to Godavari hostel where I was for four years…), speaking with faculty and graduate students about Research and Entrepreneurship, followed by a trip to IITM Research Park (and see startups in healthcare, batteries, 5G…), and enjoying many lunches and dinners with other invited speakers and amazing hosts.

Thank you all! 

Already looking forward to the next visit.


  1. You mustinclude Ryan’s Daughter. This is another great David Lean’s movie, describing British Rule in Ireland. David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia won seven academy awards. The music by Maurice Jarre in Dr. Zhivago is very haunting so also in Rayan’s Daughter and Lawrence of Arabia. Music in the Bridge on River Kwai is a very appropriate Colonel Boogey.

  2. Oh, Omar Sharif. I met him when I was a PhD student attending ORSA/TIMS New Orleans in 1979. He was filming “Baltimore Bullet” (1980) with James Coburn and Bruce Boxleitner.

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