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Studying Indian Cinema$
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Omar Ahmed

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781906733681

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906733681.001.0001

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Neo-realist Aesthetics

Neo-realist Aesthetics

Do Bigha Zamin (Two Acres of Land, 1953, Dir. Bimal Roy)

(p.33) Chapter Two: Neo-realist Aesthetics
Studying Indian Cinema

Omar Ahmed

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the neo-realist masterpiece Do Bigha Zamin (Two Acres of Land, 1953) directed by Bengali film-maker Bimal Roy. Prior to the emergence of a distinctive art cinema led by Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, the aesthetics and ideologies of neo-realism as a distinctive cinematic approach were reflected sporadically in the socialist agenda of films such as Do Bigha Zamin. While Ghatak was busy filming his first film, Nagarik (The Citizen, 1952), and Ray was still struggling with the first part of The Apu Trilogy, it was Bimal Roy, a film-maker now considered part of populist cinema, who made the earliest attempt to integrate neo-realist aesthetics into the framework of a mainstream project. The chapter considers the state of Indian cinema before the emergence of neo-realism; the influence of the IPTA (Indian People's Theatre Association); Bimal Roy as a film-maker; and the wider context including the Bengal famine of 1943–44. It also looks at Balraj Sahni's status as one of Indian cinema's first method actors; the links to Italian neo-realist classics such as Bicycle Thieves (1948); and, finally, the various Marxist ideologies that underpin such a despairing narrative.

Keywords:   Do Bigha Zamin, Bimal Roy, neo-realism, populist cinema, neo-realist aesthetics, Indian cinema, Indian People's Theatre Association, Bengal famine, Balraj Sahni, Marxist ideologies

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