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Dharti Ke Lal
Directed by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas
Produced by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas,
IPTA Pictures
Written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas(Screenplay),
Bijon Bhattacharya (Screenplay),
Krishan Chander (Story)
Story by Krishan Chander
Starring Balraj Sahni
Tripti Mitra
Sombhu Mitra
Music by Ravi Shankar
Cinematography Jamnadas Kapadia
Release date(s) 1946
Running time 125 mins
Country India
Language Hindi

Dharti Ke Lal (Children of the Earth in English) is a 1946 Hindi film and the first directorial venture of the noted film director Khwaja Ahmad Abbas (K. A. Abbas). It was jointly written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and Bijon Bhattacharya, based on plays by Bijon Bhattacharya and the story 'Annadata' by Krishan Chander.

The film had lyrics by Ali Sardar Jafri, and Prem Dhawan.

In 1949, Dharti Ke Lal became the first Indian film to receive widespread distribution in the USSR.[1]


Dharti Ke Lal was critically acclaimed for its scathing view of notorious Bengal famine of 1943 in which over 1.5 million people died. It is considered an important political film as it gives a realistic portrayal of the changing social and economic climate during the World War II.

The film uses the plight of a single family caught in this famine, and tells the story of human devastation, and the loss of humanity during the struggle to survive.

During the Bengal famine of 1943, members of IPTA travelled all over India, performing plays and collecting funds for the survivors of the famine, which has destroyed a whole generation of farmer families in Bengal.[2] Thus Abbas was deeply influenced by the work of IPTA, and hence based his script upon two of IPTA plays, Nabanna (Harvest) and Jabanbandi by Bijon Bhattacharya, and the story Annadata by Krishan Chander. Even the cast of the film was mainly actors from IPTA.

The film marked, another chapter in the influential new wave in Indian cinema which focussed on socially relevant themes as in Neecha Nagar (1946), made by Chetan Anand, also scripted by Abbas, and which continued with Bimal Roy's Do Bigha Zamin (1953).

It was the first and perhaps the only film produced by IPTA (Indian People's Theater Association) and remains one of the important Hindi films of that decade. The film marked the screen debut of Zohra Sehgal and also gave actor Balraj Sahni his first important on screen role.[3]

The New York Times called it "...a gritty realistic drama." [1]

It proved to be tremendously influential not only to future filmmakers who admired its neorealist-like qualities—but also to intellectuals of India's left-wing.[4]



  1. ^ Dharti Ke Lal Indian Express.
  2. ^ Indian arts
  3. ^ Balraj Sahani Rediff.com.
  4. ^ Dharti ke Lal Overview New York Times
  • Dictionary of Films (Berkeley: U. of CA Press, 1977), p. 84.
  • Vasudev and Lenglet, eds., Indian Cinema Super-bazaar (New Delhi: Vikas, 1978).
  • Shyamala A. Narayan, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 1 1976; vol. 11: pp. 82 – 94.
  • Amir Ullah Khan and Bibek Debroy, Indian Economic Transition through Bollywood Eyes.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharti_Ke_Lal — Please support Wikipedia.
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42 news items

Times of India

Fri, 11 Jul 2014 02:45:00 -0700

Zohra Sehgal was already an accomplished dancer-choreorapher when she made her debut in KA Abbas's 'Dharti Ke Lal' in 1946. The dancer had traveled the world with Uday Shankar's troupe and had started her own dance institute along with her ...

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Sun, 20 Jul 2014 11:00:00 -0700

WHEN you come across a book on iconic director Satyajit Ray, it is quite natural to expect it to be either about the filmmaker or about his works in various art form --- movies, writings, drawings and music etc. But Satyajit Ray's Ravi Shankar: An ...

India Today

India Today
Mon, 14 Jul 2014 07:03:29 -0700

Dharti Ke Lal (1946), Neecha Nagar (1946), Afsar (1950), Heer (1956), Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling (1964) and several TV serials thereafter. Kameshwar did not fare well and opted out. His death in 1959 left Zohra alone and she slowly moved base to ...

The New Indian Express

The New Indian Express
Sat, 12 Jul 2014 17:22:30 -0700

Shombu Mitra, director, designer and actor, shot into prominence in the 1950s with his staging of what were considered Tagore's 'unstagable plays', and with two films—Dharti ke Lal (based on Nabanna) and Jagte Raho which he directed.
Gulf Today
Wed, 16 Jul 2014 13:03:45 -0700

Striking as Zohra Sehgal's longevity was, it wasn't obviously the sole significant aspect of a varied performing arts career. The remarkable achievements of the Grand Old Lady far outweighed the eight decades that she devoted to the pursuit of joy and ...
The Asian Age
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 09:03:15 -0700

As a filmmaker, most famously he gave a break to Amitabh Bachchan in Saat Hindustani and bagged Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival with Dharti Ke Lal, made in 1946. As a scriptwriter, Abbas was credited for social content in Raj Kapoor's films ...


Mon, 14 Jul 2014 05:00:00 -0700

In India, the woman many called the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' starred in many Bollywood films, including her 1946 film debut, Dharti Ke Lal, Neecha Nagar, Afsar (1946) Dil Se.. (1998), Chalo Ishq Ladaaye (2002) and, at the age of 94, Cheeni Kum ...
Blog.nl (Blog)
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 11:04:25 -0700

In 1946 maakte ze haar debuut in films met Dharti Ke Lal en was daarna te zien in Chetan Anand's Neecha Nagar. Deze film won een van de topprijzen in Cannes. Als actrice kennen de meeste mensen Sehgal uit films als Bhaji On The Beach, Dil Se, Bend it ...

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