Mother India (1957)

 ●  Hindi ● 2 hrs 54 mins

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Radha (Nargis), now an old woman, remembers her past: her married life with two sons in a village. The family have to work extremely hard to pay off the avaricious moneylender, Sukhilala (Kanhaiyalal) and her husband (Raaj Kumar), having lost both arms in an accident, leaves her. Alone, she has to raise the children while fending off the financial as well as sexual pressures from Sukhilala. One son dies in a flood and in later years her son Birju (Dutt, Nargis’s later husband) becomes a rebel committed to direct, violent action, while the other one, Ramu (Rajendra Kumar), remains a dutiful son. In the end, the long-suffering Mother India can only put an end to her rebellious son’s activities by killing him, as his blood fertilises the soil.
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Cast: Nargis Dutt, Sunil Dutt

Crew: Mehboob Khan (Director), Faredoon Irani (Director of Photography), Naushad Ali (Music Director)

Rating: U (India)

Genres: Drama, Family, Musical

Release Dates: 25 Oct 1957 (India)

Hindi Name: मदर इंडिया

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Did you know? 'Mother India' is considered a path-breaking movie, whose plot and characters became the models for many subsequent films, including Ganga Jumna (1961) and Deewar (1975). Read More
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as Radha
as Birju
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actress
as Sukhilala
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actor
as Kamla
Supporting Actress




Production Company


Screenplay Writer
Story Writer
Dialogue Writer

Camera and Electrical

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Film Type:
Colour Info:
Black & White
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24 fps
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Nargis became the first Indian artist to win best actress award for 'Mother India' at the Karlovy Vary Festival in 1958.

'Mother India' is generally regarded as Nargis's best performance and was her last major film, before retirement after marriage.

'Mother India' metaphorically represents India as a nation in the aftermath of independence, and alludes to a strong sense of nationalism and nation-building. While some authors treat Radha as the symbol of women empowerment, others see her cast in female stereotypes.

Allusions to Hindu mythology are abundant in the film, and its lead character has been seen as a metonymic representation of a Hindu woman who reflects high moral values and the concept of what it means to be a mother to society through self-sacrifice.

The title of the film was chosen to counter American author Katherine Mayo's 1927 polemical book 'Mother India', which vilified Indian culture.

The film was shot in Mumbai's Mehboob Studios and in the villages of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh states.

This film has acquired the status of an Indian equivalent to the English classic 'Gone with the Wind' (1939); massively successful and seen as a national epic, although formally the film’s rhythms and lyrical ruralism seem closer to Dovzhenko’s later work finished by Yulia Solntseva.

The film is a remake in colour and with drastically different imagery of Mehboob’s own 'Aurat' (1940), notably in the heavy use of psychoanalytic and other kinds of symbolism (the peasants forming a chorus outlining a map of India).

Its spectacular commercial success was ironically noted in Vijay Anand’s Kala Bazaar (1960) when Dev Anand is shown selling tickets on the black market for Mother India’s premiere.

'Mother India' is considered a path-breaking movie, whose plot and characters became the models for many subsequent films, including Ganga Jumna (1961) and Deewar (1975).

The movie was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign-Language Film category. It was India's first Oscar nomination.

Originally, Sabu, one of the most famous Hollywood stars of Indian origin, was to play the role that Sunil Dutt got eventually.

Sunil Dutt famously saved Nargis during the fire sequence. Nargis was shown trapped inside a raging fire while Sunil Dutt jumps in and saves her. But the blaze roared out of control leaving Nargis stranded. Sunil Dutt quickly grabbed a blanket and plunged inside and, wrapping the blanket around themselves, the twosome ran out. It meant several, painful burns for Sunil but it also resulted in Nargis falling in love with him. They were married within a year.

The opening sequence showed a Hammer and Sickle symbol reflecting the producers company. However, since this movie was nominated for the Oscars during the cold war anti-communist period, the sequence had to be edited out.