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Do Bigha Zamin (1953)

 -  Drama
8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 675 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 5 critic

In the hope of earning enough money to pay off his debts and save his land, a poor farmer becomes a rickshaw puller in the Calcutta and faces many difficulties.

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(story), (Hindi dialogue), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Balraj Sahni ...
Shambu Maheto
Nirupa Roy ...
Parvati (Paro) Maheto
Rattan Kumar ...
Kanhaiya Maheto
Murad ...
Thakur Harnam Singh
Rajyalakshmi ...
Nayabji (as Rajlakshmi)
Nana Palsikar ...
Dhangu Maheto (Shambu's dad)
Noor Jehan ...
(as Noorjahan)
Nasir Hussain ...
Rickshaw puller (as Nazir Hussain)
Rekha Mallick ...
(as Rekha)
Misra
Chitra
Jagdeep ...
Laloo Ustad, shoeshine boy
Sarita Devi
Dilip Kumar Jr.
Ramayan Tiwari ...
Paro's molester (as Tiwari)
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Storyline

A small Bengali landowner and his young son are in danger when their two-acre farmland where they live is in danger of being taken over by a local zamindar (feudal lord) for failure to pay for mounting debits. They move to Calcutta where the father tries making a living as a rickshaw puller while his wife joins him but falls ill which threatens everything they have going to try to save their ancestorial home. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

farmer | rickshaw | court | rain | drought | See All (52) »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Also Known As:

Deux hectares de terre  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the first Indian movie to win the International Prize, at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Guddi (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

hariyaala saawan dhol bajaata aaya
Sung by Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey
See more »

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User Reviews

Bimal Roy and the Golden Age of Indian Cinema
30 June 2006 | by (France) – See all my reviews

Of course it is true that Do Bigha Zamin is strongly influenced by Vittorio de Sica's neorealist classic Bicycle Thieves (very improperly retitled Bicycle Thief in the English version). But De Sica's film has influenced virtually every realist film (and many non-realist films) ever since the day it first appeared. It is a crucial reference in world cinema and will probably always remain one.

It was of course particularly influential on all the Indian neo-realists of the fifties, including the greatest of them all - Satyajit Ray. Roy, like Ray a Bengali, would have imbibed that influence before ever he abandoned New Theatres in Calcutta to come to Bombay. He is not an especially innovative director. Devdas (1955) for instance is essentially a Hindi remake of a thirties classic of Bengali cinema; other Roy films show an eclectic range of influences. So it is not surprising to find him in Do Bigha Zamin attempting to adapt the style (and to some extent) the structure of Bicycle Thieves to an Indian context.

Once one has admitted that, however, it should not I think be seen as some sort of shameful plagiarism and one can go on to appreciate some of the real plusses of Roy's film. It is true that it is less restrained than the Italian model; Roy piles on the agony in no uncertain terms and tends to oversentimentalize. Note however that he resists any facile optimism...

The adaptation to a rural Indian context alters the politics of the film, concentrating on the issue (a burning issue to this day in rural India) of the cycle of debt and exploitation to which small peasant farmers in India are subjected (a theme that Mehboob Kahn had already explored in his film Aurat and would do again most famously in Mother India in 1957). This is a less subtle theme perhaps than that of De Sica (where in an urban context it is the poor who steal from the poor and prolong the cycle of misery) but it is nonetheless an important one and Roy (and Balraj Sahni who is excellent) paints a convincing picture of village-life and rural values.

Roy very deliberately counterbalances the picture of misery (rural and urban) with examples of solidarity, of the poor helping the poor, whether on the level of the adults or of the street-boys. And perhaps the most touching and most natural part of Roy's film - and something that owes nothing to De Sica - is his portrayal of the street-kids of Calcutta (which very interestingly prefigures Mira Nair's much later Salaam Bombay). Instead of being isolated companions as in the De Sica film, the father and son in Roy's film experience two rather different aspects of urban life and this layering of the story is perhaps Roy's most significant achievement.

Can one put paid once and for all, finally, to this idea that a realistic film or a film showing social awareness is uncharacteristic of Indian cinema (based on an essentially modern image of "Bollywood")? The golden age of Indian cinema (say 1949 to 1964) abounds in realistic films and films which, while not necessarily realistic in a strict sense of the term, show a good deal of social awareness. It is the period that includes the most memorable films of Satyajit Ray, Rithwik Gathak and Tapan Sinha, the films of Guru Dutt, the early films of Raj Kapoor, those of Bimal Roy, Mehboob Kahn's Mother India but also amongst relatively minor films, Arora's Boot Polish and B R Chopra's Naya Daur. To say nothing of great films in a non-realistic genre such as Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and Pakeezah (largely filmed during the period although not completed until 1972). By comparison with any contemporary cinema anywhere in the world including certainly American cinema, including even that of Japan (also experiencing something of a golden age at that time), it is a very impressive record.

Roy may not be amongst the first rank of cinematic geniuses - I would not put him in the same class as Ray or Gathak or for that matter as Guru Dutt, in my view the finest of the Hindi film directors of the period. He was a populariser (quite determinedly so) and constituted as such an important bridge between the more 'arty' Bengali and more 'popular' Hindi film industries of the time. His contribution remains an important and enduring one to an Indian cinema (and a popular Indian cinema) of real quality that has nothing to do with "Bollywood"...


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