Earth (1998) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • The movie opens in Lahore of 1947 before India and Pakistan became independent. It is a cosmopolitan city, depicted by the coterie of working class friends who are from different religions. The rest of the movie chronicles the fate of this group and the maddening religious that sweeps even this city as the partition of the two countries is decided and Lahore is given to Pakistan.

  • England, having colonized India at its leisure, granted it independence with unseemly haste. Even its most outspoken nationalists were taken aback when Lord Mountbatten, the British viceroy, unexpectedly announced that the date for independence was a few months, not a few years, in the future. The British decision to pull out by Aug. 15, 1947, left a country with no orderly way to deal with the rivalries between Hindus and Muslims, and the partition of India and Pakistan along religious lines led to bloodshed, massacres and, as this film calls it, "the largest and most terrible exchange of population in history". "Earth" is a film that sees that tragedy through the eyes of a group of friends in Lahore, then in India, now in Pakistan. There are Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsees, even a Christian or two. They have lived side-by-side since time immemorial, and the more idealistic think that situation can continue. But as India has proved, along with Northern Ireland, the Middle East and Yugoslavia, many members of all faiths consider it no sin to murder a non-believer. The movie is about a young, brace legged, eight year old Parsee girl named Lenny, whose beautiful nanny, Shanta is admired by all the men in a circle of friends. She slowly comes to love Hasan, a masseur, who is Muslim. She likes, but does not love, Dil, known as "Ice Candy Man". Her life is pleasant in a wealthy Parsee household ruled by Lenny's kind mother and officious father. When a train of Muslims arrives at the local depot and all the passengers are found murdered, the various sects turn against each other, and the city is soon aflame. For Lenny, the trouble first appears in her Lahore home when a quarrel erupts between Mr. Singh, a Sikh neighbor and Mr. Rogers, a British Inspector General of Police, who have come to dine with her parents. Bitter words metamorphose into slogan shouting mobs and arson. Angry Hindus storm through Lahore one day, and angry Muslims the next. Still, it is all far enough away from Lenny's uneasy but untouched home where her mother, Bunty, teaches her to waltz and Ayah's crew of admirers continue to meet in the park as before. The once charming Ice Candy Man turns into a near madman, one of the many roaming the streets of Lahore with vengeance and murder on their minds. The Muslim Masseur, Hasan, the only voice of reason amongst Shanta's admirers, implores the group of friends to "stand by each other". A love affair between him and Shanta, blossoms amidst the carnage and Lenny is privy to this fragile relationship between a Muslim and a Hindu. A film which gracefully establishes the beauty of peace and crudely depicts the tragic loss of it, Earth concludes that the most painful kind of betrayal is that which occurs within the family.

  • This story revolves around a few families of diverse religious backgrounds, namely, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Parsi, located in Lahore, British India. While the Parsi family, a known minority in present day India, are prosperous, the rest of the families are shown as struggling to make a livelihood. Things change for the worse during 1947, the time the British decide to grant independence to India, and that's when law and order break down, and chaos, anarchy, and destruction take over, resulting in millions of deaths, and millions more rendered homeless and destitute. In this particular instance, Shanta is a Hindu maid with the Sethna (Parsi) family, who is in love with Hassan, a Muslim, while Dil Navaz loves Shanta, and wants her to be his wife, she prefers Hassan over him. This decision will have disastrous effects on everyone concerned, including the ones involved in smuggling Hindus across the border into India.

  • 1947 Earth is shown from the perspective and memories of an eight year old Parsee girl Lenny. In the film it is said by one of the main characters: "Hindu, Mussalman or Sikh, we're all bastards. All beasts. Like that caged lion which scares Lenny baby lying in wait for the cage to open." A cage, whose opening frees the evils of murder, loot and kidnappings. In the film the opening of the cage is depicted with the Britishers leaving India and therewith causing tensions between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Between these religious groups stands a Parsi family, who has to see how their friends are either fleeing or being killed. In all this hatred the tragedy of the Hindu servant Shanta is embedded, who is equally loved by Dilnawaz and Hasan. These three characters provide a reflection of a maddening society, where friends become enemies and are even prepared to kill each other.

  • It's 1947 and the borderlines between India and Pakistan are being drawn. A young girl witnesses tragedy as her ayah (nanny) is caught between the love of two men and the rising tide of political and religious violence.


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