ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Return of the Village

While both the classic Mother India and the recent Gulaab Gang may be seen as examples of the Hindi “village film”, there is a world of difference in their treatment.

Mehboob Khan’s 1957 melodrama Mother India can be found in almost all lists of best Indian films; it may even top a few of the listings for all-time favourite Hindi movies. The film has assumed an iconic status and even those who have not seen it know enough about its worth to blindly accept it as among the greatest Indian films ever made. A critic-proof film, few contrarian assessments of it have appeared even six decades after it was made. If anything, its fame has only grown.

Mother India has come to be regarded as a metaphor for the quintessential nobility in Indian woman, who braves phenomenal odds and deep personal tragedies to keep her dignity intact. In the film, Radha, the mother (played by Nargis), loses her husband, spurns the advances of a moneylender, tills the fields and, in the end, faced with a terrifying choice between the personal and the community, she chooses the latter, shooting her own son when he kidnaps a woman he loves.

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