World History Connected Home    
Home List journal issues Table of contents
Printer-friendly format          

Film Review


Earth. (India and Canada, 1991). Directed by Deepa Mehta. 101 mins. In English, Hindi and Urdu, with English subtitles. VHS and DVD available generally.

      Earth, based on Bapsi Sidhwa's semi-autobiographical novel Cracking India, dramatizes the Indian Partition, exploring communal identities and intercommunal as they harden in Partition-era Lahore. In the popular imagination, it is "ancient hatred" that animate third-world civil conflict. Earth takes strong exception to this view. In this film, religious conflict emerges from an ill-planned Partition, not from centuries-old rivalry. In doing so, Earth can stand in usefully for similar events elsewhere in the globe, from the Biafra war to the pogroms against "Shirazis" in post-independence Zanzibar. 1
    Earth is, however, no mere anticolonial screed. While colonialism sets the stage, the Raj itself is marginal to the film's narrative. A triptych of scenes—two set in a park and one in a restaurant—neatly encapsulate for students the changing relationships among India's three major religious communities. Parallels with the more recent events, from the Balkan wars to Iraq, should easily fuel class discussions. So too should the fact that both Pakistani and Indian governments banned the film. Graphic depictions of violence and more sexually explicit scenes than one might expect to find in a Bollywood epic might, however, require careful handling. 2
Fritz Umbach
John Jay College, City University of New York

Home | List Journal Issues | Table of Contents
© 2007 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Content in World History Connected is intended for personal, noncommercial use only. You may not reproduce, publish, distribute, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, modify, create derivative works from, display, or in any way exploit the World History Connected database in whole or in part without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Terms and Conditions of Use