In the last issue you read about the making of Bimal Roy’s debut Bengali film UDAYER PATHEY (1944) and the storm it created in Indian cinema for its unique style of film making.
Today I take the readers to Bimal Roy’s second film DO BIGHA ZAMEEN (Two Acres of Land) that established him as the film maker par excellence. The movie not only won him rave reviews but made him India’s First filmmaker to win the prestigious Prix International, Cannes Film Festival (1954) and a special Prize for Social Progress, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Besides these international awards ‘DO BIGHA ZAMIN’ has the additional distinction of being one of the first Indian films to win awards and accolades in China, UK, USSR, Venice and Melbourne.
In addition Bimal Roy won the National Award (All India Certificate of Merit for Best Feature Film for DO BIGHA ZAMEEN and the popular Filmfare Award too as Best Film and Best Director.
The highlight of DO BIGHA ZAMEEN is that Bimal Roy has beautifully merged the elements of art and commercial cinema to create a movie that is still viewed as a benchmark among filmmakers who wish to make intelligent cinema.
Prior to Bimal Roy the film industry was divided into art cinema with filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Mirnal Sen and others made a realistic movies exposing the poverty and social issues. Though these movies were applauded by the critics for their realism and social comment yet they were discarded by film buffs as they were dull and dreary. On the other hand some filmmakers like Mehboob Khan, Raj Kapoor and other made commercial cinema with songs, dance and entertainment. Though these movies were applauded by the movie buffs they lacked social issues.
However Bimal Roy invented a new kind of cinema which was amalgamation of art and commercial cinema. Bimal Roy knew that Cinema is a form of entertainment but is also a tool to reach out to millions of people with a comment. Hence in his movies he made an attempt to combine entertainment along with social message.
Thus in DO BIGHA ZAMEEN, Bimal Roy tackled the sensitive issue of the exploitation of Indian famers who in lure of few rupees were made to give away their land to the zamindars, who built factories on their land and churned money without realizing the fact they were throttling farming industry.
DO BIGHA ZAMIN, cannot be complete without mention the superlative performance of its lead actor, Balraj Sahani, who played the protagonist Shambhus, who is forced to sell his land.
Balraj Sahani, was an obscure actor struggling at IPTA. But with DO BIGHA ZAMIN he became an actor to reckon. To get into the skin of rickshaw puller’s character Balraj Sahni had interacted with a lot of poor rickshaw pullers and used rehearse pulling a rickshaw on the streets of Calcutta.
DO BIGHA ZAMIN was released in 1953 when India was witnessing an Industrial revolution and Indian farmers were becoming victims of landlord. However today in 2014 the movie is still relevant because even today our farmers are in the same agony, instead of landlords; the builders lobby is exploiting them.
Note: In the next issue read about Bimal Roy’s other great milestone DEVDAS