Based on a story by Munshi Premchand, and much influenced by Vsevolod Pudovkin's 1925 film Chess Fever, this satirical film by noted Indian director Satyajit Ray is set in colonial India in 1856. The British Resident of the East India Company (Richard Attenborough) has observed that the monarch of Lucknow, which is in his trading region, seems to be completely uninterested in government.
He tries to arrange things so that he can annex the province. Embroiled in a long-running chess rivalry, two local noblemen (played by Sanjeev Kumar and Saeed Jaffrey) cannot be bothered with such minor issues as who is governing whom. Meanwhile, conditions in the kingdom go from bad to worse.