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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 dates 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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79 news items

Times of India
Tue, 26 Feb 2013 01:20:10 -0800

Made under Prasad Film Enterprises Bhojpuri film 'Dharti Ke Lal's was launched recently. The musical launch took place at Trinity music studio in Mumbai. Songs are penned down by Vinay Bihari and sung by Pawan Singh under the guidance of music ...

Business Standard

Business Standard
Sat, 21 Jun 2014 09:28:17 -0700

Khwaja Ahmad Abbas is considered one of the pioneers of Indian parallel or neo-realistic cinema having penned films such as Neecha Nagar, Jagte Raho, Dharti Ke Lal, Awara, Shri 420, Mera Naam Joker, Bobby and Henna Khwaja Ahmad Abbas was a ...


Thu, 10 Jul 2014 20:46:37 -0700

1946: Zohra Sehgal featured in her first film role in K.A. Abbas's 'Dharti Ke Lal'. Also is part of Chetan Anand's 'Neecha Nagar' the same year which became the first Indian film to gain critical international recognition and win the Palme d'Or at the ...
Economic Times
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 09:15:19 -0700

She was a member of the Indian People's Theatre Association and in 1946 debuted in its first film production "Dharti Ke Lal", which dealt with the Bengal famine. She also acted in another IPTA film - Chetan Anand's "Neecha Nagar". In 2012, daughter ...
Sun, 19 Oct 2014 19:48:45 -0700

Ravi Shankar was the music director of the IPTA's first film venture, Dharti Ke Lal (1946), directed by Khwaja Ahmed Abbas. It won an international award at the Cannes Film Festival. Preetidi was one of the main singers in it. Among other films of the ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 03:52:30 -0700

He made 'Dharti Ke Lal' much before 'Do Bigha Zamin' or 'Pather Panchali' and his comment on fair skin in 'Chaar Dil Chaar Rahen' is still relevant. So is his reflection on urban poverty Shehar Aur Sapna where the protagonists live in a water pipe.
Times of India
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:19:14 -0700

When his parents separated, Nabarun was raised by his father, an integral part of IPTA movement who write the landmark play 'Nabanna' (that gave birth to the K A Abbas classic 'Dharti Ke Lal'). That initiated the 11-year-old into the Communist fold ...

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.

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