Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
India, 1957. Mehboob Productions. Screenplay by Wajahat Mirza, S. Ali Raza. Cinematography by Faredoon A. Irani. Music by Naushad. Production Design by V.H. Palnitkar. Costume Design by Fazal Din. Film Editing by Shamsudin Kadri. Academy Awards 1957.
Epic drama, often retold, that brought India its first Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign-Language Film. A family of poor farmers go through hardship and then some, followed by a good break before starting up the drama all over again. Nargis is fantastic as the matriarch of the household, who must raise her children in dire poverty after her husband is seriously injured in a field accident and gives up on the family completely. The children grow up and create situations of their own, and during all this melodrama the characters manage to sing their hearts out. The score is gorgeous, the storytelling honest and unsentimental despite the cookie-cutter soap opera plot. On top of that, India’s wheat fields have rarely looked more beautiful. Beware of bad prints with lazy English subtitles (but if it’s all you can get your hands on, settle!)