Six films on the dilemma faced by migrants

Published on 11th Dec 2020 by BlogBuster Editorial Team

Mass migration to cities has been an ongoing phenomenon for decades. However, migrants suffer an immense socio-economic cost. Here are a few films that have documented their frustration and helplessness.

1. Dharti Ke Laal

Set against the Bengal Famine of 1943, KA Abbas’s directorial debut narrates the story of a family of sharecroppers in Bengal. Despite a good harvest and rising grain prices during World War II, the family lose their land to a corrupt zamindar. This forces the younger son, Ramu (Balraj Sahni) to leave for Calcutta in search of work. Along with hundreds of other dispossessed peasants, Ramu desperately searches for work. The film’s stylised and symbol-laden realism made it an extremely influential film

Dharti Ke Laal
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2. Do Bigha Zameen

This Bimal Roy classic narrates Shambhu’s (Balraj Sahni) tragic tale. Shambhu leaves his village to earn enough money to release his land from the zamindar. When he finally returns, it is to discover a smoke-belching factory on his once-fertile land. Bimal Roy’s camera filmed the tragedy of many rural lives with compassion and sensitivity

Do Bigha Zameen
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3. Rihaaee

Aruna Raje’s 1988 film dealt with the personal cost of migration on men – and on the women they leave behind. In doing so, it highlighted the promiscuity of the men who live in the cities. At the same time, it shone a light on the forced celibacy of women. Rihaaee questioned the double standards in society when it comes to women’s sexuality

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4. Liar’s Dice

Geetu Mohandas’s debut feature film takes an uncompromising look at the human cost of migration to cities. The canvas of the film stretches from Chitkul (on the Indo-Chinese border) to Delhi. Liar’s Dice is the story of a young mother (Geetanjali Thapa) who goes in search of her missing husband. It showcases the anger of the migrants – against a system that fails them again and again. The migrants’ abject helplessness plays out against India’s current socio-political landscape

Liar’s Dice
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5. Train Chaar Baje Ki Hai

The film narrates the story of a family from central India’s Gondwana forest. An old mother is sadly watching the end of their traditional way of life. One of her sons is set to migrate to the city to work as a construction worker. Another son toils in the fields while the third tries to get a job in a government office. Feelings of helplessness and uncertainty hover over this hard-hitting documentary

Train Chaar Baje Ki Hai
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6. Khwada

Khwada is inspired by the trials and tribulations of the shepherd community in the village of Gawhanewadi in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district. The film powerfully highlights the rural-urban divide. It shows how government apathy compels a single family to migrate to the city

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