The Versatile Era
If there's any era that I can think of when it comes to Bollywood being versatile, it would have to be the 1950’s and 60’s. There is barely any genre that hasn’t been covered then. Moreover, it’s mind blowing how even with movies being black and white, the emotions and storyline were conveyed with so much accuracy. If someone asks me what I am most mesmerized about in the era, it would be the authentic reality of life back then, captured in the lens.
In this essay, I’ll be talking about two such movies - ‘Do Bigha Zamin’ and ‘Anuradha’. Both the movies have completely different storylines but very strong plots, and here’s why you should definitely watch them if you haven’t yet.
Do Bigha Zamin
A 1953 classic directed by Bimal Roy, this is a story about a farmer and his family’s struggle to keep their land safe from a zamindar for which they had to pay him 235 Rupees in 3 months. The farmer, Shambu Mahato goes to Kolkata to earn that money with his child, leaving his wife and father behind. The movie beautifully portrays the struggle that farmers and their families go through in order to survive and keep their property to themselves. The brutal reality of life, of all those struggling with poverty, is clearly displayed in the movie without any sorts of exaggeration or sugarcoating. The struggles haven’t been limited to just the male member of the family (although that is the main plot of the film), rather, the struggles of the wife who was left behind has also been pointed out.
A man running on roads barefoot, pulling the rickshaw day and night to earn money, a child polishing shoes in order to help his parents and a wife doing everything in her power (selling fruits, working as labor) to pay off the loan as quickly as possible is what most farmers experienced. Their whole life goes for a toss even then due to loans. The actors have done a marvellous job in portraying their respective characters.
I am not going to give away the ending, but the whole movie reminds me of what realism really looks like in movies, and how much a poor person in our country goes through. Though the film was released in 1953, and it’s been 67 years since then, the condition of millions of farmers is still the same. We barely get such a wholesome experience while watching a film nowadays, where we can feel every single emotion that the director has tried to put through, where reality hits us so hard that we are forced to think about a particular topic. This movie definitely provides that.
some stills from the movie
Anuradha is a 1960 release directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, starring Leela Naidu as Anuradha. This movie revolves around the life of Anuradha Roy, who is a noted radio singer, who falls in love with an idealistic doctor, and goes against her father’s will to marry him. Although the film might sound like a love story, it is much more than that. It showcases the reality of most of the Indian women back then, who gave up their careers for their husbands.
This movie was made ahead of its time. It reflects self importance and its value in a woman's life. It compares Anuradha’s life before and after she got married, and her journey of realization on how much she gave up just to be a good wife. It targets the engrained thought that most women have, for having to live in a society which teaches them the same - i.e. putting their happiness aside for their husbands.
Up until recently, I haven’t seen any film where a female lead has had more importance. The writer and director have unfolded the life of a housewife in India. Apart from the plot line, some strong use of dialogues can be seen in the movie, that'll surely stay with you for a long time. Mesmerizing music, that has been composed by Pandit Ravi Shankar and sung by Lata Mangeshkar, sets the tone of the film. The music, in my opinion, definitely keeps the magic alive. This film isn’t about making only the women realize that their own lives and choices come before anything else, but it also makes the society and loved ones realize the same. Considering it was released back in the 60's, if there is one movie capable of bringing change, then this would be one of it.
still from the movie