8.1/10
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Mother India (1957)

Not Rated | | Drama, Musical, Family | 14 February 1957 (India)
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.

Director:

Mehboob Khan (as Mehboob)

Writers:

Wajahat Mirza (dialogue) (as Vajahat Mirza), S. Ali Raza (dialogue)
Top Rated Indian Movies #84 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Nargis ... Radha
Sunil Dutt ... Birju
Rajendra Kumar ... Ramu
Raaj Kumar ... Shamu (Radha's Husband)
Kanhaiyalal Chaturvedi ... Sukhilala (as Kanhaiya Lal)
Jilloo Maa Jilloo Maa ... Shamu's mother
Kumkum ... Champa
Chanchal Chanchal ... Roopa
Sheela Naik Sheela Naik ... Kamla
Mukri ... Shambu (as Muqri)
Siddiqui Siddiqui
Ram Shastri Ram Shastri
Fakir Mohammad Fakir Mohammad ... (as Faqir Mohomed)
Geeta Geeta
Hameeda Hameeda
Edit

Storyline

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 gavin@sunny_deol2009@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

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

Genres:

Drama | Musical | Family

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

India

Language:

Hindi

Release Date:

14 February 1957 (India) See more »

Also Known As:

Madre India See more »

Filming Locations:

Arthan, Surat, India See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mehboob Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

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

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign-Language Film category. It was India's first Oscar nomination. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Nagari Nagari Dware Dware (Revival)
Performed by Lata Mangeshkar
Lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ambitious, uneven, but overall excellent Bollywood melodrama
30 September 2003 | by zetesSee all my reviews

Nargis stars as a suffering woman, Radha, experiencing tragedy after tragedy, surviving it all. The first half of the film doesn't promise anything overly special. A poor community falls under the weight of a moneylender, Sukhilala. When Radha marries, her mother-in-law mortgages her farm to pay for the wedding and Radha's jewlery. Since the mother-in-law has no education whatsoever, Sukhilala, probably the only educated man in the village, is able to take advantage of her. When she challenges Sukhilala's claim, she can't do much to disprove their deal. This part of the story is pretty cliché, rather predictable and very questionable. Sukhilala is a fairly standard villain, very cartoonish and simplistic. The audience is programmed to hiss at his every appearance. The conflict is compelling, but I was hoping for something more complex. It is nice, I suppose, to see the system challenged, but the fact that the system is challenged does not necessarily mean that the film challenges the system in an insightful manner. In reality, the film's solutions to the problems are all melodramatics.

Luckily, something else is brewing in the film at this point. Radha has two sons, Ramu and Birju. The story starts to focus in on Birju, who is very obnoxious. His mother loves him dearly, spoils him, and he becomes simply evil. I should say at this point that the little kid who plays him as a child, Master Sajid, is very, very annoying, not to mention a terrible little actor. As an adult, Birju is a devil. Sukhilala still runs the place, and now Birju is big enough to do something about it. Thankfully, Birju is not made a hero. Well, perhaps an anti-hero, but at least we're spared him becoming an Indian Robin Hood as I expected. Complexities begin to develop in the way Sukhilala is depicted, and, while he's still the villain, the audience is no longer programmed to despise him on site. Radha has to both protect her son and stand up for what is right. The climax is so extremely impressive that I was almost convinced that the film was great.

Yet the film is not what I would call great as a whole. There were dozens of scenes that I loved, but, as the film goes on for three hours, there was plenty to dislike, as well. The fat and gristle detract. Did I mention there are great songs? Great indeed! I love Hindi music myself. The cinematography is also often exceptional. 8/10.


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