TWO ACRES OF LAND (1953) [Feature]

India (MIFF 1956 , Programme 26)
Director: Bimal Roy

Hailed as one of the first Indian neo &ndash: realist films, Two Acres of Land succeeds in presenting an unromanticised view of certain aspects of Indian life. It has been likened to de Sica's Bicycle Thieves and stands up to the comparison. Its production highlighted a revolutionary trend in Indian film-making and today, more and more of that country's films are breaking away from their traditional style.

Sambhu is an Indian peasant owning a piece of land which he does not wish to sell to a landlord proposing to build a factory on the site. He is taken to court by the landlord to whom he owes money and ordered to pay 200 rupees in three months. Sambhu goes to Calcutta to work and earn the necessary amount, has many difficulties, but eventually gets a job pulling a rickshaw. His son, who has run away and joined his father, becomes a shoeblack but falls into the company of pickpockets. An accident renders Sarnbhu incapable of working hut he refuses his son's offer of money on learning how it has been obtained. in desperation, the boy writes to his mother while Sambhu makes an effort to restart his work. Hailed to take someone to hospital, he finds that it is his wife, who has been run over. Meantime, the son has snatched a bag, full of money. Learning of his mother's whereabouts, he believes her dead, as a punishment for his crimes. She recovers, however, and they return home to find the factory now built. Heartbroken, Sambhu tries to lift a handful of his beloved earth. This is forbidden and he is left realising that his loved ones &ndash: and hope &ndash: are all that he has left for the future.

The film indicates the director's concern for the acute rural problem which has existed in India for many years; and he makes a genuinely compassionate statement on behalf of the poor and distressed. Despite the grimly authentic picture, love and friendship, however, are not entirely absent.

The film's qualities have gained recognition from many international festivals.

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