Earth is a movie based on the book Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa
Earth is a movie based on the book Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa. It takes place during the Partition of India and Pakistan that came after Britain announced that India would receive its independence by June 1948.Britian had asked that the Hindu and Muslim political parties agree to a united country. The two parties could not come to an agreement. So, it was decided that the predominantly Muslim region would form a new country, Pakistan. The Hindu majority region would be India. Once the agreement was announced, Britain accelerated the independence date to August 15, 1947. This left the two political parties scrambling to draw the borders between the countries. This partition caused political and religious turmoil in the area that was to be divided. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs that were friends are now divided.
The movie unfolds entirely from the perspective of a young Parsi girl, who has previously suffered from polio, named Lenny. Lenny is from a wealthy Parsi family who tried to remain neutral in the religious and political tensions. As Lenny’s father says, “the Parsi are like the Swiss, neutral to the situation.” Lenny is cared for by her Ayah, Shanta. Shanta is a beautiful young Hindu woman who is part of a small circle of friends that meets at a local park. Two of the friends become part of a romantic love triangle. Dil Navaz, The Ice Candy Man, and Hassan, The Masseur, both Muslims become romantic rivals for the beautiful Shanta’s love. As the Partition grows closer, fighting, protests, and riots start in the city. Violence erupts in the streets, and Lenny sees a man ripped apart by two jeeps. The next day she rips apart a doll in the same fashion, her young mind trying to comprehend the action. The movie shows Lenny’s confusion about the Partition. She tries to make sense of the disruption to her comfortable world and the horrors she has witnessed.
The movie has three climatic events, and all surround Dil Navaz and show his downward spiral. The first is Dil Navaz witnessing Shanta and Hassan in bed; his heart is now broken that he has lost the chance to be with Shanta. The second climax would be Dil Navaz seeing the dead bodies of Muslims on the train, Muslims killed by Hindus. One of the bodies is a member of his family, his hate for Hindus grows. The last climax is the scene where Shanta is dragged away from Lenny’s house. This shows Dil Navaz at his worst and his hatred towards Hindus at its peak. A few days ago he loved this woman, and now he is helping an angry group of Muslim men to drag an innocent Hindu girl away. Shanta is heard yelling, “tell Hassan!!!!” The viewer wonders if she ever finds out about Hassan’s murder.
The movie was released in 1998 around the 50 year anniversary of India Independence and the Partition. Even though the two countries have been separated for 50 years, at the time of the release, tensions still remain high. There have been four wars, including one undeclared war, border fights, and military stand-offs. Most of the time Pakistan has been on the losing side of these conflicts. In May 1998, India conducted its first nuclear test since 1974. Pakistan followed with testing later the same month. With nuclear weapons pointed at each other, the loss of life could far exceed what had happened in 1947.
The movie was entertaining and informative. It had comedy, tragedy, and romance. Even for a viewer that is not familiar with the history of the Partition, the story itself was well developed. The last scene where adult Lenny is reflecting on what became of Shanta, the viewer sees Lenny expressing regret at mistakenly betraying her friend. You also see the statue of Queen Victoria. The statue is seen throughout the movie. At the beginning brand new, at the end a crumbled mess. This is symbolic to the relationships in the movie. And the relationships of the two countries.