1947: Earth is a poignant tale of the times when the success stories of Indian Independence were being written in face of the failures of a nation trying to evade a partition. The tale does not speak of the partition of the nation and the various effects it had in general but sees it through the eyes of a little girl, Lenny who grew up in those times. The tale helps Lenny figure out– what is otherwise so simple to understand- through one of the worse turmoil of Indian History, a lesson whose relevance holds true till today!
The story moves around a group of friends – Hindus, Muslims, Parsees, Sikhs (Their names are irrelevant to the story; their religion is not) – who hang around in gardens and restaurants in pre-partitioned Lahore. Lenny sees them as Ayah, Massage Wala, Ice Candy Wala etc. The first part of the movie sets the camaraderie that exists between them before the partition with the Ayah (Nandita Das) being wooed by both the Ice Candy Wala (Aamir Khan) and the Massage Wala (Rahul Khanna) alternatively. Lenny loves their company and sees them as her friends for life.
However the news of the partition changes everything. People lose their all in the struggles that follow. The Hindus convert to Islam, the Sikhs flee the lands which has been their home for ages, the Muslims lose their near and dear ones, the Massage Wala loses his life, the Ice Candy Wala loses his humanity, the Ayah loses herself and in all this little Lenny loses her innocence – understands what it means to be raped, sees people torn to death and realizes that trust has no meaning in the grim world of religious fanaticism.
The movie revels in the acting put up by its brilliant cast. Both Nandita Das and Aamir Khan bring out the various complexities of their characters flawlessly on the screen. The thoughts of the general confused youth is very well captured in the frames of the movie which slowly turn from dinner tables to murderous fights on the streets. Maia Sethna as Lenny wonderfully brings out the image of an innocent, little girl growing in those times. But, what stands out through the movie is its impeccable direction and the innovative ways of showing human emotions in a small setup that captures the general feeling prevaling across the nation during those times. Deepa Mehta is surely someone to watch out for!
The music is plain and simple. It captures the theme of the story well though.
The movie is a little slow and might seem as overrated initially but still falls into the must watch category simply because it tells a very complicated story in the simplest of the way, because Ice Candy Walas around us need to rediscover their humanity in today’s world, because Lennys who grew up in those times need to ensure that they do not create any more Lennys.
Do not expect an emotional, weepy time killer from Deepa Mehta. This is not popcorn material. Watch the movie for its seriousness and the impact that it leaves behind.