The most popular film in Indian history--it's said to have been playing somewhere in the country every day since its release. This epic melodrama is so widely known and deeply revered that Indira Gandhi used the title on election posters and campaigned with star Nargis Dutt at her side.
Radha (Nargis) is a rural matriarch who loses her husband (Raj Kumar) after a farming accident. With her sons, she struggles to survive despite the machinations of a singularly villainous landlord. When wayward son Birju (Sunil Dutt) becomes an outlaw, Radha must act to restore order to the
Director Mehboob Khan's very Indian brand of Marxism is neatly represented by his production company's logo, which combines the hammer and sickle with the symbol denoting "Om." The film is unmistakably left-leaning but curiously compromised--after it makes about as strong a case for killing the
local zamindar (landlord) as could be imagined, it suggests that actually doing so would be a violation of dharma (order, propriety). Salvation lies not in violence but in adherence to the traditional values embodied in the archetypal mother figure, unforgettably played by Nargis Dutt. For Nargis,
who had earlier specialized in urban sophisticates (AWAARA), the peasant Radha was a marked departure; it nevertheless became the definitive role of her career. Having conducted a notorious affair with Raj Kapoor (India's greatest star and a formidable director), she soon married co-star Sunil
Dutt and settled down, redeeming herself in the eyes of the Indian public. Their son, musclebound Sunjay Dutt, became India's leading action star during the 1980s.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The most popular film in Indian history--it's said to have been playing somewhere in the country every day since its release. This epic melodrama is so widely known and deeply revered that Indira Gandhi used the title on election posters and campaigned wit… (more)