In this melodrama, a poverty-stricken woman raises her sons through many trials and tribulations. But no matter the struggles, always sticks to her own moral code.


(as Mehboob)


(dialogue) (as Vajahat Mirza), (dialogue)
Top Rated Indian Movies #62 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Shamu (Radha's Husband)
Kanhaiyalal Chaturvedi ...
Sukhilala (as Kanhaiya Lal)
Jilloo Maa
Sheela Naik ...
Mukri ...
Shambu (as Muqri)
Ram Shastri
Fakir Mohammad ...
(as Faqir Mohomed)


The film begins with the finishing of a water canal for the village set in the present. Radha (Nargis), as the mother of the village, is asked to open the canal and remembers back to her past when she was newly married, mirroring the new independence of India. The wedding between Radha and Shamu (Raaj Kumar) was paid for by Radha's mother-in-law, who got a loan from the moneylender Sukhilala. This event starts the spiral of poverty and hardship that Radha endures. The conditions of the loan are disputed, but the village elders decide in favor of the moneylender, after which Shamu and Radha are forced to pay three-quarters of their crop as interest on the loan of 500 rupees. While trying to use more of their land to alleviate their poverty, Shamu's arms are crushed by a boulder. He is shamed by his helplessness and is humiliated by others in the village. Deciding that he is no use to his family, he leaves and does not return. Soon after this, Radha's mother-in-law dies. Radha continues... Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

village | poverty | field | farm | bandit | See All (75) »


Drama | Musical | Family


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 February 1957 (India)  »

Also Known As:

Madre India  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)


(Gevacolor) (negative)| (Technicolor) (prints)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This movie is filmaker Mehboob Khan's last most successful film. See more »


Featured in Bollywood and Beyond: A Century of Indian Cinema (2015) See more »


Na Main Bhagwan Hoon
Performed by Mohammad Rafi
Lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni
See more »

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User Reviews

A Great Indian Epic in the Making !
7 June 2006 | by (Lahore, Pakistan) – See all my reviews

Mehboob Khan's Mother India reserves a special place among all time great and memorable Mega Hit films.

Nargis has consummately performed a versatile role of a mature Indian mother who would not allow her own son to rob the honor of their village at any cost. The climactic last scene of the epic, where Radha shoots her son in the back, while Birju was all set to kidnap the cruel money lender's daughter is a tragedy sequence that can be commensurately compared with the ending of another emotionally charged film - Shakti, where Dilip Kumar shoots in the back of his son "Amitabh".

However, Birju's angry performance in this movie steals the show at many a times; for instance, when he argues with his mother and brother about the greedy Bania moneylender who had fleeced their family from all earthly possessions through the odiously manipulative annual interest rate charged by him, although they have toiled day and night to return the debt.

It is a great melodramatic picture, containing magnificent performance by Nargis and Sunil Dutt, while manifesting the impoverished economic conditions and abysmal living standards of a typical Indian rural family who were driven in utter disgust, shame and tragedy due to the volatile temper of one of their family members. However, seething poverty was not the sole reason which perturbed Birju (Sunil Dutt) to become an outlaw and murder Sukhi Lala (the rapacious money lender), but the very ominous and cruel person hidden in the money lender, who, in a backward rural social setup took full benefit/advantage of the poor, illiterate and weak elements of village social order.

Besides, the strong and moving story line, Faredoon has captured mesmerizing stills providing an excellent background setting of the full horizon picture down to the ground level with spreading murky clouds at dusk against the backdrop of silhouetted actors.

It is definitely a must see movie having marvelous and stupendous cinematography, as well.

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