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Bollywood goes farming

Last updated on: December 28, 1999 

Bollywood goes farming

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Sukanya Verma

'As you sow so shall you reap,' goes the popular saying. If only a farmer's life was so uncomplicated.

The history of their harassment is as relevant today as it was yesterday inspiring endorsers of meaningful cinema to voice their woes. Over the years, quite a few landmark films have come out of their stories of struggle and fortitude.

Aspiring to follow suit is Puneet Sira's Kisaan, chronicling a family of farmers, featuring Khan brothers -- Arbaaz and Sohail along with Jackie Shroff and Dia Mirza. All set to hit the screens on August 28, Kisaan is said-to-be loosely inspired by Manoj Kumar's Upkar.

Here's a look at some other Hindi films in this genre.


Image: A scene from Kisaan

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Do Bigha Zameen

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Taking inspiration from Italian filmmaker Vittorio De Sica's neo-realistic approach to The Bicycle Thief, Bimal Roy's reputable classic, Do Bigha Zameen revolves around a famine-struck, impoverished farmer and his struggle to retrieve two-acres of land from the exploitative landlord.

The award-winning film's poignant metaphors and unembellished reality under Roy's detailing and Balraj Sahni's striking performance has left a lasting impact on its audience, over the years.


Image: A scene from Do Bigha Zameen

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Mother India

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A benchmark epic of Hindi cinema, Mehboob Khan's Mother India was, in fact, a reworking of his earlier 1940 film, Aurat.  

Here too, Khan showcases the problems that plague rural India through the medium of his larger-than-life protagonist, portrayed powerfully by Nargis in her career-best.

Despite a long run-in with misfortune, an invalid farmer's wife along with her two sons continues to toil in the fields till they bear fruit. Only, unlike her elder son, the younger one is neither appreciative nor endorsing of her hard-working ideology.


Image: A scene from Mother India

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Upkar

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As per the 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisaan' patriotic fervor of Manoj Kumar's directorial debut, Upkar, the emotional drama delved on the debate of the importance of Indian values and it's land-loyal philosophy against greed-inspired Western ideals through the story of two conflicting brothers.

Besides reaping a Filmfare award for his work behind the camera, Upkar established Kumar's image as a devoted son of the soil. Of course, Kalyanji-Anandji's immortal melody, Mere desh ki dharti contributed considerably.


Image: A scene from Upkar

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Ankur

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Shyam Benegal has always associated himself with thought-provoking, responsible cinema echoing the trials and tribulations of rural India, mostly comprising of farmers and workers.

And so the subjugation of farmers at the hands of manipulative zamindars around various parts of the county was often a recurring theme in many of his hard-hitting classics like Ankur, Manthan, Nishant and Aakrosh.

Benegal's ability to portray their plight with cutting realism and relentless intensity is what makes their representation all the more authentic.


Image: A scene from Ankur

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Ghulami

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For the longest time, before Border came to his rescue, Ghulami was the only big hit to J P Dutta's credit.

The multi-starrer featuring Dharmendra, Mithun Chakravarthy, Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil and Reena Roy broached the issues of oppressed farmers, versus wicked landowners, prevalent caste system and class discrimination against the sand-filled landscapes of Rajasthan.

Visually arresting and aggressive in tone, Ghulami earned both -- critical and commercial appreciation.


Image: A scene from Ghulami

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Lagaan

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At a time when teeny boppers romances were crowding the marquee, filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker came up with the idea of staging a story in pre-Independence India.

Nominated for the much sought Oscar for Best Foreign Film, Lagaan deals with the predicament of a village and its peasant community owing to long spells of no rain and overbearing taxation. In a bid to get out paying the killer taxes, the penniless farmers are dared to defeat the English in a game of cricket.

Even though it didn't bag the coveted trophy, Gowariker's simplistic celebration of the human spirit, conveyed through a compelling ensemble cast led by Aamir Khan, was lapped by the audience universally.


Image: A scene from Lagaan

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Summer 2007

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Based on the Vidharba farmers' mass suicide, Suhail Tatari's Summer 2007 takes a up, close look at the existent situation in the villages through the eyes of ignorant urban youth. How an encounter with this bitter reality changes the otherwise escapist outlook of Generation X forms the crux of the plot.

Despite its well-meaning intent, Summer 2007, co-starring Sikander Kher and Gul Panag, failed to make an impression.


Image: A scene from Summer 2007

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