Earth

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The Indo-American Arts Council presents:



Earth, a film by Deepa Mehta

Set during the division of the sub-continent ink) India and Pakistan in 1947, Earth is a .story about the destruction of innocence in the name of nationalism and religion. Massacres co-exist with a luminous love story, betrayals of friendship walk alongside individual heroics, riots and kidnapping open innocent eyes t0 the unscrupulous nature of desire.

The Story

Lahore, 1947. Lenny is an eight year old Parsee girl, enjoying the soft, enveloping
life that loving parents and a household staff of six brings. She travels daily to
Queens Gardens with her Ayah (Nanny), a beautiful young Hindu woman with a
constant supply of eager male suitors. These men are Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs,
just as the staff -members serving Lenny and her well-heeled family are a happy
collection of the religions and ethnicities of the Indian sub-continent.

It's an entirely pleasing world, peopled by the beloved Ayah, Imam Din, the genial
cook, by the Ice Candy Man (who gives Lenny treats to win over her Ayah), by the
Masseur (who massages Lenny's right leg wasted by polio), by her doting

- Godmother, and by her precocious brother-like cousin.

When the film opens, the British are finally preparing to quit their colonial India and
the searing process of splitting British India into Independent India and Pakistan is
about to begin.

For Lenny, it first appears in her Lahore home with angry words between Mr. Singh
and Mr. Rogers, British Inspector General of Police, who have come to dine with
her parents. Words she and Cousin hear while hiding beneath the dining table.

Words transform into marches and fires. Angry Hindus storming through Lahore
one day, angry Muslims the next. Then the serious killing begins. Hindus and Sikhs
attack Muslims; Muslims attack Hindus and Sikhs.

The savagery is thrust into Lenny's idyllic world. Lenny is with Ayah and a group of
Ayah's admirers outside the servants' quarters of her home. Troubling reports have
been coming over the radio of violence around Gurdaspur in India. While the group,
gripped with fear, listens to the radio, Ice Candy Man waits for his sisters at the
Lahore Railway Station. The train from Gurdaspur finally arrives with all the -
Muslim men and children killed and four gunny sacks filled with women's breasts.
That massacre sets into motion events that turn Lenny's world upside down, and the
once charming Ice Candy Man turns into a near madman.



The Muslim Masseur is the only voice of reason amongst Ayah's admirers. He
implores the group of friends to "stand by each other" and a love affair between him
and Ayah blossoms amidst the carnage. Lenny's family is spared the slaughter

because Parsees are not part of the politics and the blood-letting. But a mob arrives
one dat at their front gate, led by the transformed Ice Candy Man. The family will

not be touched, but the mob wants all the Hindu servants. That includes Ayah,
whom Ice Candy Man has desired for a long time.

Lenny's unconscious betrayal of her beloved Ayah in the face of violence is a
betrayal she will have to live with for the rest of her life. And innocence is destroyed
by desire and greed, religion and nationalism in the searing division of India.

 
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