A Girl At My Door
Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas) and Kim Sae-ron star in writer-director July Jung's drama about an abused teenager and her unlikely friendship with a policewoman.
One of the first great epics of Indian cinema and a profound influence in Bollywood and beyond. Massive in scope and also running time, it follows a poverty-stricken single mother's struggle to overcome impossible odds and do right by her rebelliou
Mehboob Khan's vast state-of-the-nation address was first shown in 1957 and has been playing pretty much constantly ever since. The first great Bollywood blockbuster, Mother India (Bharat Mata) a purposefully melodramatic musical, liberally laced with action, wit, humour and also a strongly socialist strain.
Told in one long flashback, the story follows Radha (Nargis) through marriage, motherhood and into old age. As a girl she falls for Shamu (Kumar) but even before their wedding the couple owe money to merciless lender Shukhilala (Kanhaiyalal). They start a family, but debt repayments barely cover the interest. Shamu loses both arms in a farming accident and walks out leaving Radha to face famine, flood and the death of a baby alone. Worse, her oldest boy Biju (Dutt) grows into a chillum-smoking bandit, seething with resentment at the way Shukhilala has exploited his family.
Much of Khan's work dealt with the strain of a country struggling to make the transition from rural economy to modern state. Radhu is emblematic of that struggle, torn between her love for her rebellious son and her determination to uphold the family's honour. It's a demanding role - Nargis is rarely off screen - but her unrepeatable performance elevated her to the status of national icon. Even Indira Ghandi recognised the power of Nargis' performance and later cast herself as the real life Mother India.
The songs by composer Naushad operate as a sort of chorus, and Khan's sharp direction means that though the film is long (it's generally shown with an interval) it never drags. A blazing fire stands up against plenty of contemporary action footage, but the most memorable moment comes right at the end, with a time-ravaged Radha opening the government's new dam and watching the water, blood red with clay, slowly wash away.
A supreme achievement.
Director-writer-producer Mehboob Khan moves easily from high drama to wry comedy, uses music to enhance his dramatic muscle and succeeds in painting a deeply involving portrait of Indian family life.
Shooting has started in Cincinnati on The Killing of a Sacred Deer,¿ which reunites Colin Farrell with director/producer Yorgos Lanthimos, following the critical and commercial success of The Lobster.
39 titles from Film4's library will be launched to buy or rent on iTunes and Amazon on August 1st, 2016. The collection includes classics and award-winners which will be available for digital download
The best all-singing, all-dancing showstoppers every committed to screen
A summary of the critics and film professionals who voted for the top 50 Horror films of the 21st Century