Although the film suggests in its opening title, ‘500,000 farmers of Gujarat present ...’, that it was publicly financed, it was in fact made through the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), a controversial organisation headed by Dr V. Kurien, who shares a script credit. Established in 1965 to regularise milk co-operatives and to enhance their productivity with new technology, the NDDB was accused of aggravating India’s foreign debt and of diverting resources destined to help the rural poor into servicing the urban upper-class market. Made during this controversy to enhance the NDDB’s image, Manthan tells a version of the organisation’s early years when corrupt local politicians, middlemen and an uneducated community’s prejudices had to be overcome to create local co-operatives. Karnad plays what is presumably a fictional version of Dr Kurien himself while Kharbanda is the villainous Sarpanch (village head). Shah and Patil represent the voices of progress among the peasantry. The Andhra Hindi spoken in Ankur (1973) and Nishant (1975) is here replaced by Gujarati Hindi.