The Tiger of Eschnapur, or in original German, Der Tiger von Eschnapur, is a 1959 German adventure drama film directed by Fritz Lang. It is the first of two films comprising what has come to be known as Fritz Lang's Indian Epic; the other is The Indian Tomb (Das Indische Grabmal). Fritz Lang returned to Germany to direct these films, which together tell the story of a German architect, the Indian Maharahaja for whom he is building a temple, and the half-breed dancer who comes between them.
Lang's Indian epic is based on work he did forty years earlier on a silent version of Das Indische Grabmal. He and Thea von Harbou co-wrote the screenplay, basing it on von Harbou's novel of the same name. Lang was set to direct, but that job was taken from him and given to Joe May. Though Lang did not control the final form of that earlier version, it is one of his most revered films.
The tale begins when architect Harold Berger (Paul Hubschmid) arrives in India to meet with Maharahaja Chandra (Walter Reyer), for whom he will build a temple. En route to the Maharahaja's palace, Berger meets a dancer named Seetha (Debra Paget) and saves her from a tiger. Seetha is promised to the Maharahaja, but she and the architect begin to fall in love. Predictably, this leads to a buildup of tension between Chandra and Berger, helped along by scheming palace courtiers. The film is also filled with action, and a highlight of it is Seetha's first ritual dance. At the end of Tiger, Seetha and Berger are imprisoned but escape into the desert just as Berger's sister, also an architect, arrives with the team of architects hired to continue his work. Chandra informs her the plans have changed; she will now be building a tomb.