1947 Earth (1999)

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Partition is probably the second-most bloody massacre in human history — the first being the Holocaust. Now, more than 50 years later, the scars still run deep. The present circumstances continue to serve as cruel reminders of the past. People still kill in the name of religion, nationalism and patriotism.

Cast: Aamir Khan, Nandita Das, Rahul Khanna

Deepa Mehta’s 1947: Earth is another Partition saga. The second in her trilogy (Fire, Earth, Water) this film has, and will, run into controversy. It will surely be accused of being anti-Muslim, anti-Hindu and anti-Sikh, depending on one’s political and religious allegiance.

The film, in reality, is neither. Based on Bapsi Sidhwa’s novel Cracking India (or Ice Candy Man), Mehta’s film encompasses only half the novel. It leaves out the nerve-racking depictions of violence, rape and plunder, as described by Sidhwa.

The novel has a vast canvas on which the author etches many characters from several communities and the fate they meet with in the end, mainly at the hands of each other.

Mehta, constrained to tell the story in around two hours, sifts through the book, amalgamates characters and combines different elements to make it cinematically viable.

Earth is the tale of Partition seen through the eyes of Lenny (Maaia Sethna), an eight-year-old girl afflicted by polio. She lives in Lahore with her parents (Arif Zakaria and Kitu Gidwani). Shanta, the ayah (Nandita Das), is her constant companion and her primary source of interaction with the world outside.

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