Mother India (1957): Movie Review

Mother India
Mother India


Mother India

Cast – Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar, Raaj Kumar, Kanhaiyalal

Crew – Directed by Mehboob Khan, music by Naushad

 A woman carrying a plough on her shoulder, her face twisting in agony – this is the first look of Mother India’s poster. This distressed woman is Nargis, playing the role of a rural Indian girl named Radha. The story is about Radha and her family’s struggle to make ends meet during days of abject poverty and their suffering at the hands of Sukhilala, a cunning moneylender. With an interesting climax, the film makes up for its lack of a happy ending. The audience is then able to understand the significance of the movie’s title and how a woman, with strongly held values and beliefs, sacrifices her own happiness for the sake of justice.

Incredible performances by all actors is what makes this film worth watching. Nargis’s beautiful portrayal of Radha steals the show, followed closely by Sunil Dutt’s performance as the mischievous Birju. Each and every character in the movie has been presented with astonishing realism. One can actually feel the emotions of the characters – strife, joy, agitation, gaiety and a plethora of other expressions, displayed in a way that reach out to the audience, messages conveyed subtly through mere gestures. Simple yet skillful.

Mother India is not just a movie, it is much more. It brings forth a number of social issues that concern the country even today such as poverty, usury, and illiteracy.  The film also gives out thought-provoking messages – hard work can surpass any adversity; putting justice and truth above oneself.

The sweet-sounding tunes by Naushad add a rustic touch to the film, which was shot in carefully selected villages of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Mehboob Khan has done an amazing job as a director of a movie so rich in detail and content.

Through Mother India, one gets a glimpse of the country’s agrarian population. Although, over 50 years have gone by since the film was made, some of its aspects can still be observed in the lives of the country folk. Watch out for amazing deliveries by all actors!


Rating – ****