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India@75

1953: ‘Do Bigha Zamin’ spurs New Wave in Indian cinema

Print edition : Aug 25, 2022 T+T-

1953: ‘Do Bigha Zamin’ spurs New Wave in Indian cinema

A still from “Do Bigha Zamin” featuring Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy.

A still from “Do Bigha Zamin” featuring Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

It was the first Indian film to win the Prix Internationale at the Cannes Film Festival.

When Bimal Roy made Do Bigha Zamin, he was a relative newcomer to the Bombay film industry. It was an unusual film to make in Bombay. It told the story of a poor man eking out a living on the city streets. There were no opulent settings, dream sequences, middle-class moral point nor any fairy-tale features. In the first Indian Filmfare awards in 1954, Do Bigha Zamin bagged prizes for best picture and best director. It also became the first Indian film to win the Prix Internationale in the 1954 Cannes Film Festival. The New Wave in cinema was launched.

Also read: 1953: ‘Andha Yug’ by Dharamvir Bharati, and Theatre of Roots

Like Satyajit Ray, another New Wave luminary, Bimal Roy was influenced by Italian Neorealism and fascinated by Vittorio de Sica’s 1948 film, Bicycle Thieves. His attempt was to capture everyday realities faithfully through the camera. Do Bigha Zamin was followed by Ray’s Pather Panchali in 1955, Ritwik Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara in 1960; Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome in 1969, and in their wake Adoor Gopalakrishnan, G. Aravindan, Mani Kaul, Balu Mahendra, and several others, together creating a formidable body of Indian New Wave cinema.

Also read: India at 75: Epochal moments from the 1950s