Do Bigha Zamin (1953)

 ●  Hindi ● 2 hrs 21 mins

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Realist drama about a small landowner, Shambhu (Sahni) which opens with a song celebrating the rains that put an end to two seasons of drought, Hariyala sawan dhol bajata aaya. Shambhu and his son Kanhaiya (R Kumar) have to go and work in Calcutta to repay their debt to the merciless local zamindar (Sapru) in order to retain their ancestral two acres of land. The sentimentally portrayed peasants bid farewell to the departing Shambhu and his son with the song Bhai re, ganga aur jamuna ki dharti kahe pukar ke. In Calcutta, Shambhu becomes a rickshaw-puller, facing numerous hardships that lead to his near-fatal accident, the death of his wife (N. Roy) who joins him in the city and, inevitably, the loss of his land to speculators who build a factory on it.

Cast: Balraj Sahni, Nirupa Roy

Crew: Bimal Roy (Director), Kamal Bose (Director of Photography), Salil Choudhury (Music Director)

Rating: U (India)

Genres: Drama

Release Dates: 01 Jan 1953 (India)

Hindi Name: दो बीघा ज़मीन

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Did you know? Inspired by Italian neo-realistic cinema, Bimal Roy made 'Do Bigha Zameen' after watching Vittorio De Sica's 'Bicycle Thieves' (1948). Read More
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Screenplay Writer
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Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography


Music Director


Film Type:
Colour Info:
Black & White
Sound Mix:
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
1.33:1, 2.35:1
Music Label: Saregama India Limited
In a then unheard of practice, Balraj Sahni actually rehearsed for the role by pulling a rickshaw on the streets of Calcutta, in order to better prepare for the role. He interacted with many rickshaw pullers and some of them were facing the same situation as portrayed in the movie.

The movie got the name from a famous poem by Rabindranath Tagore, called "Dui Bigha Jomi". Bimal Roy distributed the film abroad with the name "Calcutta - The Cruel City".

At the first-ever Filmfare Awards introduced on March 21, 1954 (and called the Clare Awards then named after the Times of India editor, Clare Mendonca) the movie and won the award for Best Film, while Bimal Roy one the Best Director award.

In 2005, Indiatimes Movies ranked the movie amongst the Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films.

This was the first film to win the Filmfare Best Movie Award and the first Indian film to win the International Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and the Prize for Social Progress at the Karlovy Vary International Film

Like most of Bimal Roy's movies, art and commercial cinema merge to create a movie that is still viewed as a benchmark. It has paved the way for future cinema makers in the Indian neo-realist movement and the Indian New Wave, which began in the 1950s.

Inspired by Italian neo-realistic cinema, Bimal Roy made 'Do Bigha Zameen' after watching Vittorio De Sica's 'Bicycle Thieves' (1948).

Bigha is measure of land area but is not same as acre though translating the title as such serves the purpose. The measurement of Bigha varies from state to state. In Bengal, where the movie is based, 3 bigha is one acre (4,000 m²). Therefore, Shambhu owns only 2,700 m².

The film is known for its socialist theme, and is an important film in the early parallel cinema of India and is rightly considered a trend setter.

The film’s neo-realist reputation is almost solely based on Balraj Sahni’s extraordinary performance in his best-known film role.

Although promoted as the epitome of Indian neo-realism, the film is even more melodramatic than e.g. De Sica’s work (sometimes claimed to have influenced Roy’s work). The script and the humanist acting styles include a hard but kind landlady in the Calcutta slum and the happy-go-lucky shoeshine boy (Jagdeep) who takes Kanhaiya under his wing, all enhanced by IPTA overtones in Choudhury’s music.