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TO FEB. 25
Allow Ismail Merchant and James Ivory to set up their cameras in an upscale English drawing room and the results will probably be as stuffy as the wallpaper. It’s hard to stay so buttoned-up, however, in the heat and dust of Indiawhich is why the Anglo-American duo’s subcontinent pictures are often livelier than its island ones. The Merchant Ivory in India retrospective includes the first Merchant-Ivory-Ruth Jhabvala collaboration, 1963’s The Householder (at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9), a domestic comedy recut with the assistance of Indian master director Satyajit Ray, and longtime producer Merchant’s first solo as a director, 1993’s In Custody (at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26), adapted from Anita Desai’s novel about a scholar attempting to record the work of his hero, a dissolute old poet who’s one of India’s last Urdu writers. Similar cultural-preservation issues drive Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie’s Pictures (at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28), in which two sets of art collectors vie for a maharajah’s Indian miniatures, and Shakespeare Wallah (at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11), the tale of a traveling theater company in post-British India. Westerners’ going wild in India also seems to be a recurring theme. It happens at a Bollywood studio in Bombay Talkie (at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19), at an ashram in The Guru (at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21), and in both the past and present in Heat and Dust (at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16)which is also one of the best films in the series, with Julie Christie as a woman who travels to India to investigate the scandal caused by her aunt (Greta Scacchi). The series ends on Feb. 25 with an appearance by Ivory and his customary screenwriter, Jhabvala. But before that, the series runs for a little over five weeks, to Saturday, Feb. 25; see Showtimes for details. (Mark Jenkins)