Mother India (1957)

Mother India is a 1957 Indian epic drama film, it was directed and produced by Mehboob Khan and it was written by Mehboob Khan, Wajahat Mirza and S. Ali Razastarring it stars Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar, and Raaj Kumar

It was released on 25 October 1957, and had several high-profile screenings, including one at the capital, New Delhi, attended by the country’s president and prime minister. The film was among the most expensive Hindi cinema (Bollywood) productions and earned the highest revenue for any Indian film at that time.

The film won the Filmfare Best Film Award for 1957, and Nargis and Khan won the Best Actress and Best Director awards respectively. It was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film it was becoming the first Indian film to be ever nominated.

Story was based on a Mother Nargis (as Radha) is reluctant to attend the ceremony opening a new water canal for her village. Eventually agreeing, the old woman recalls her life… we begin with Nargis’ marriage to Raaj Kumar (as Shamu). The very attractive young couple are fully in love.

Five year after her wedding, they have three children. But, all is not well. The couple have borrowed from greedy money-lender Kanhaiyalal (as Sukhilala). They do not seem to be aware of the fact, but Kanhaiyalal has cheated them out of land and future profits. Dealing with the money-lender meant Nargis and her family work harder and harder, one tragedy happen and everything turn worse the children are threatened with starvation. At one point, Nargis considers prostituting herself to Kanhaiyalal, The injustice to and torture of their mother was interpreted in opposite ways by her children, while the elder Ramu was humble and just, the younger Birju who seethes with hatred for Sukhi Lal turns outlaw. While Radha tries to bring back Birju with love, Birju plans to finish Sukhi Lal’s debt once and for all. This leads to a conflict between “Mother India” and son.

The score and soundtrack for Mother India was composed by Naushad. Mehboob Khan and the lyrics were written by Shakeel Badayuni. The soundtrack consists of 12 songs and features vocals by Mohammed Rafi, Shamshad Begum, Lata Mangeshkar, and Manna Dey , The songs give the aroma of the richness of the Indian village like Duniya Mein Hum Aaye Hain”, “Nagri-Nagri Dware-Dware”, “Holi Aayi Re Kanhai”, “Tan Rang Lo Ji” etc.

The title Mother India was inspired by American author Katherine Mayo’s 1927 polemical book of the same name, in which she attacked Indian society, religion and culture. The book pointed to the treatment of India’s women, the untouchables, animals, dirt, and the character of its nationalistic politicians.

Such an emotions which are very close to the native Indian sensibilities is hardly ever seen in India. Mother India became a definitive cultural classic and is regarded as one of the best films in India and world cinema. Mother India still ranks among the all-time Indian box office hits.