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EARTH tells the story of a beautiful Hindu servant and her two Muslim suitors. The beautiful Shanta is the Hindu nanny of a young crippled girl named Lenny. Lenny's family is Parsee, a Zoroastrian sect originally from Persia. They try to remain neutral regarding the political and religious divisions among the Muslims, the Hindus and the Sikhs. Shanta often takes Lenny to the park where she has friendly conversations with her Muslim, Sikh and Hindu male friends. Two of the friends seem particularly interested in Shanta. The first is an ice candy seller named Dil. The second is a masseur named Hasan. Both Dil and Hasan are handsome-looking young men.
As Muslim Pakistan prepares to break off from India, refugees start to stream across artificial borders. Soon, violence breaks out. Muslims and Sikhs attack Hindus and Hindus attack Muslims and Sikhs. Eventually, Dil discovers his sisters have been murdered by Hindus, and Shanta decides to pick Hasan over Dil. This leads to a tragic, heartbreaking ending of brutal betrayal that irreparably damages Lenny's life and psyche.
Unlike the movie WEST BEIRUT (also reviewed in this issue), which was also about a religious conflict in a faraway land, EARTH tries to give the audience a good understanding of the conflicts that led to violence between the various factions in India in 1947. In fact, at one point, the movie even provides a biblical reason for the brutality - it suggests that the sinfulness of man is the reason.
This insight comes from Shanta's Muslim suitor Dil. While watching a street battle from a rooftop, Dil tells Shanta, "Inside we're all animals, like the lion in the cage. When the cage opens, then God help us all." Dil then asks her, "Marry me, Shanta, so that the animal inside me will be controlled." Of course, Shanta declines his offer and decides to marry Hasan. Little does she know that her decision will be the catalyst that unleashes the animal inside Dil.
Thus, despite references to the false religions of the Muslims, the Hindus and the Sikhs, EARTH contains an undeveloped moral worldview that shows man's inhumanity to man. It indirectly suggests that, without a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, sin will eventually take control, leading to brutality.
Regrettably, the movie also indicates that the Christian minority in India was totally ineffectual as the other religious groups brutalized each other. In addition, one Christian family in the story betroths their young daughter to an older man, an event which the non-Christian characters say is a "crazy" attempt to cope with the unsettling events occurring in India. EARTH also includes a few strong obscenities, some mild profanities, disturbing scenes of violence and dead bodies, and a scene of implied fornication. Ultimately, therefore, despite its positive qualities and its insights, EARTH rates an extreme caution in moral and spiritual acceptability, even for adults.