Land is the mother for an Indian peasant
While reading about the Indian economy as a part of my syllabus during B. Com., I learnt that the Indian economy as well as the Indian agriculture is termed as a gamble on monsoon(i.e., the rainy winds entering India during May-July period every year). Good monsoon leads to prosperous agriculture and bad monsoon leads to droughts and famines. Since the Indian economy is mainly agro-based, the quality of the monsoon in a particular year, in turn, affects the same, favourably or adversely as the case may be.
However, given the feudalistic land-ownership system in our country continuing for ages, an Indian peasant used to remain poor only irrespective of good monsoon resulting in good crop or bad monsoon resulting in bad crop for him because of his exploitation by the blood-sucking money-lenders and middlemen of the market. His hard labour and perspiration shed into the fields do not bring any prosperity or even some reasonable relief for him and his family. After green revolution during the late sixties, situation improved for a section of peasants in India but the majority still suffers and we hear the news of suicides committed by peasants in different parts of our country even today.
Still, a typical Indian peasant is never ready to get separated from the land owned by him because the land is not something non-living for him, it's a part of his family, akin to the mother for him and the other family members. And therefore, he can ignore the call of anybody but his land. The call of the agricultural land for an Indian peasant which it belongs to, is simple and clear -'Don't allow me to go into the hands of the greedy ones who will not serve me, keep me with you only because it's you who ploughs me, takes care of me and enables me to produce grains to feed the mankind'. Dharti Kahe Pukaar Ke(1969) tells the tale of such a call only.
Dharti Kahe Pukaar Ke(the land says to you through a call) is the story of a peasant family headed by Gangaraam(Kanhaiyalaal) who lives in a village alongwith his wife, Paarbati(Durga Khote) and two younger brothers - Moti(Sanjeev Kumar) and Shiv(Jeetendra). He had taken loan from the money-lender of the village - Hari Babu(Tiwari) by pledging his farming land and as per the documents, he is still indebted to him. Shiv and Hari Babu's daughter, Raadha(Nanda) are in love of each other but Hari Babu gets an impression that Raadha loves Moti. Since Moti has gained higher education and become a successful lawyer in the city now, Hari Babu is pleased to perceive him as his prospective son-in-law. However Moti's life has already got complicated. Due to falling in love with a girl in the city(Nivedita) who is the daughter of a very big lawyer, he has married her without telling this fact to his family members. He has hidden this fact from his family members under the apprehension that they won't approve his marriage to a girl belonging to the high society. But when Gangaraam engages him to Raadha by accepting Hari Babu's proposal of matrimonial alliance, he is in a fix. On the other hand, his married life is also not that happy because his wife does not want to go to his real home(in the village) and meet his parents and younger brother. Still Moti takes Shiv into confidence, telling him the truth. But when he introduces Shiv to his wife, she humiliates him.
Here in the village, when the reality of Moti's being already married is known to Hari Babu, he gets furious and sues Gangaraam in the court for the debt and in the event of its non-payment, for confiscating his land(which is pledged against the loan). Moti is already in the city, living separately from his wife and now Shiv also moves to the city to earn money to repay the debt and save the ancestral land. His sweetheart Raadha gets scared due to her father(Hari Babu) being determined to marry her to someone else. She runs away from her home and reaches the brothers(Moti and Shiv). Situation in the city takes such a turn that Moti's wife realizes her mistake and leaving her father's home, she moves to her husband's residence to share the modest living with him. The trial of the case lodged by Hari Babu against Gangaraam starts in which Hari Babu's lawyer is Moti's father-in-law. Moti himself becomes the defence lawyer for his elder brother and fights the case. In the end, Moti is able to win the suit and save their ancestral land. The whole family gets reunited and moves back to the village.
This story is full of romance, emotions and dynamics of relationships. Right from the beginning to the end, the movie is fully entertaining. The dilemma of Moti when his father engages him to Raadha, the strain in his marital life, the love of Shiv and Raadha and Shiv's hiding his grief when his sweetheart is engaged to his elder brother, the love of the peasant family for the farming-land which is no less than the mother for it, Shiv's insult by Moti's high profile wife and later opening of her eyes due to an incident which makes her realize her mistake and move from her father's home to her husband's home and Hari Babu's realization of his mistake after losing the suit in the court; everything is not only interesting but also impressive. The writer has emphasized the significance of family bonds in a touching way. Several scenes are able to strike a chord in the viewer's heart. The innocent love of uneducated Shiv and Raadha is able to create waves in heart of any romantic person. Gangaraam is shown as a drinker and he generates enough laughs in the movie. Hence humour is also there amidst sentiments and drama. Not a single boring moment can be picked up from this movie. The climax taking place in the court-room is again damn impressive.
All the characters have done complete justice to their respective roles. Nanda has mainly done roles of urban girls in her career but in this movie, she looks so much of an uneducated village girl that it's difficult to imagine any other actress in this role. The show-stealer is Kanhaiyalaal. This veteran actor was typecast in the role of a money-lender but for a change, in this movie, he is not the money-lender but the indebted peasant who drinks regularly and keeps on scolding(humorously) his wife and younger brothers. In this different role of his career, he has marvelled. His performance in the ending scenes taking place in the court, can be termed as outstanding.
Technically, the movie is good. The rural milieu has come alive on the screen. But the city life(during the sixties) has also been shown quite realistically which covers the carefree and licentious life of the neo-rich leading to downfall of moral values. The length of the movie is according to the norms prevailing in that time. The editor has done his job well.
Laxmikant Pyarelaal have composed melodious tunes for the lyrics of Majrooh Sultaanpuri. The title track, Ja Re Kaare Badra Balam Ke Dwar, Jee Hum Tum Chori Se Bandhe Ek Dori Se, Khushi Ki Woh Raat Aa Gayi Koi Geet Bajne Do, Diye Jalaayen Pyar Ke Chalo Isi Khushi Mein etc. all are very good songs. Mukesh, Rafi and Lata have given voices to the memorable songs.
All in all, Dharti Kahe Pukaar Ke is a very interesting movie and portrays the dynamics of agriculture-based life in the Indian villages in that period quite realistically as well as interestingly. The movie has a high entertainment value and can be watched a number of times. I recommend it wholeheartedly to all the movie buffs.