Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Staying On (1980)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Pankot, India, 1972. Colonel Tusker Smalley and his wife Lucy live in the annexe lodge of the Smiths Hotel, which dates back to the Raj. They are childless. The Colonel was a deskbound soldier in the British army who opted to stay back after India gained independence in 1947.

The passing years have made the Colonel more and more irascible and foul mouthed. The hotel is run by Frankie Bhoolabhoy, who manages it, and his wife, the owner. While Frankie meets the Colonel for a drink almost every evening and reminisces about the old Raj days, Mrs Bhoolabhoy plots to get rid of the Smalleys from her property.

Lucy is lonely but happy and caters to the Colonel's every whim. They also have a love-hate relationship with their manservant, Ibrahim. The Colonel suffers from a heart attack, and his activities are severely curtailed. He grows irritable over the smallest of things, and begins dwelling on his own mortality.

Eventually, Mrs Bhoolabhoy makes plans to sell the hotel and sends a notice to the Smalleys. The Colonel is unable to bear the shock and dies. Lucy is left alone.