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| | 1 hr 48 min | Drama, Foreign

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 a part of 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. The movie is about a young, brace legged, eight year old Parsee girl named Lenny (Maia Sethna), whose beautiful nanny, Shanta (Nandita Das) is admired by all the men in a circle of friends. She slowly comes to love Hasan (Rahul Khanna), a masseur, who is Muslim. She likes, but does not love, Dil, who is also a Muslim (Aamir Khan), known as "Ice Candy Man". Her life is pleasant in a wealthy Parsi 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.

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Stars
Aamir Khan, Nandita Das, Rahul Khanna, Maia Sethna, Kitu Gidwani
Director
Deepa Mehta, Deepa Metha
Language
English
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