Just finished watching Earth 1947.. For the uninitiated, it is a movie directed by Deepa Mehta, released in 1998.. set in Lahore in 1947, and runs through the partition phase, spanning over a few months.. starring Nandita Das as Shanta the Aaya, Aamir as Dil Nawaz, fondly called Ice candy wala and Rahul Khanna (the handsome gentleman) as a masseur.
As you may guess from the starcast, there had to be a love triangle.. and that’s the basic premise of the movie.. however, it is by no means a simple love story.. the very setting made it impossible to sugar coat the plot and straightaway, we are plunged into the darkness, that engulfed India in those times..
Aamir Khan, the stalwart made an impressive entry, portraying a perfect happy-go-lucky man, ready with instant jokes and impromptu couplets.. he is the quintessential charmer, and the protagonist, eight year old Lenny is in awe of him.. in typical little girl fashion, she even expressed a desire to marry him.. and to tell you the truth, Rahul faded in his comparison.. and even I as a viewer, desperately wished that Nandita accepts him as a lover..
But, as in life, nothing moved as wished for. soon the darker side of religion and politics took over the nascent love story, interspersed with gory violence and heartrending bloodshedding.. and a transformation began taking place, in the plot as well as in the character of Aamir.. out went the charmer and a cold blooded murderer gushed out.. though I would not disclose the climax or give away the entire story, but I must confess I was shocked.. .. a movie that begun on such a happy note ended so tragically that I am still wordless.. unable to fathom what grief and jealousy can do to a person..
Deepa Mehta or the Censor Board have been kind enough to only leave hints in the minds of viewers about the possible murders and rapes committed.. but still the clues have been strong enough to leave a bitter taste in mouth.. and I am left wondering at the innate capacity of human hatred.. is thwarted love or inflamed religious talks or political vendetta enough to convert a man into devil.. or is there actually an animal raging inside each one of us, waiting for an opportunity to pounce upon a prey.. the questions are many but answers lie so deep in our conscience that it’s impossible to deliver a straight yes or no…
The movie, settings, characters, despite being a little haphazard, do leave a lasting impression.. but most of all I was enamored by the little Parsi girl, who does not believe in mincing words and irritated by the show of neutrality, brands her community as bum lickers.. despite no direct violence inflicted upon her as she belonged to a neutral religion, she is scarred most deeply.. an innocent child subjected to betrayal by her first crush.. and fifty years down the line, she still ponders over the futility of partition..
Though partition, as a theme has been used and abused a number of times, Earth does hold on its own as a worthy one time see.. at least for Lenny’s sake.. I am no critic, so won’t touch upon the cinematography or editing part but I did find it somewhat less than perfect.. however if you are looking for a different kind of movie, it’s indeed worth the time and effort.. though it’s not an easy watch and is sure to ruffle a few feathers and flutter your heart a bit..