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Kitu Gidwani, Gulshan Grover, Aamir Khan, Rahul Khanna, Kulbushan Kharbanda,

Set in 1947 just before the independence of India and Pakistan, EARTH tells the story of a group of friends living in Lahore, a cosmopolitan city right on the border between Muslim and Hindu worlds. Lenny is a young girl in leg braces whose nanny, Shanta (Nandita Das), falls in love with a gentle masseur, but their love is halted by the violence of political and religious turmoil. A sweeping and tragic love story based on the autobiographical novel by Bapsi Sidhwa.

Deepa Mehta's epic tale of the hateful religious and civil wars that took place in India and Pakistan in the 1947 battle to gain independence from the British, EARTH is the second movie in a trilogy from the director, preceded by FIRE (1996) and followed by WATER (due in 2001). The story, which is based on an autobiographical novel entitled CRACKING INDIA, by Bapsi Sidhwa, is told through the eyes of a little girl, Lenny (Maia Sethna), who has one leg in a brace. The impediment keeps Lenny from being very active, so she spends her time sitting and talking with her loving nanny, Shanta (Nandita Das), whose beauty attracts a faithful following of about six male friends. Lenny and Shanta sit in the park, fly kites, take long picturesque walks through the ruins outside their village, and all the time Lenny is absorbing the conversations around her. Between Shanta's Muslim and Hindu suitors--one of whom is a Sikh--and Lenny's parent's varied group of Parsee and Catholic friends, the debates about the futures of India and Pakistan, including a litany of stereotypes, fearful opinions, and hateful feelings about all parties involved, become more and more heated. Finally, Lenny watches as the warring begins. A horrific trainload full of the bodies of massacred Muslims arrives in their town. Gangs march through the streets raging with violence. Hindu tenements are burned to the ground. Lenny is terrified, and as she struggles to understand all that is happening--and why--the tragedy only gets worse. EARTH is an intense and moving film that illustrates beautifully the terrifying political and cultural atmosphere of 1947 India.

Deepa Mehta's film, FIRE, raised a huge controversy among Hindu conservatives in India, as it explored a lesbian relationship between two Indian women. One man even threatened to murder Mehta at the premiere. So, when EARTH came out in early 2000, exploring the Muslim and Hindu history of war and hate, Mehta was likewise criticized for being too controversial. The third and last movie in Mehta's trilogy, WATER, will be set in Banaras in the 1920s. The movie is supposed to have a 2001 release date. However, Mehta has received more death threats, and the Indian authorities have temporarily banned the production on the film. Mehta's collegues fear that the film will never be completed or released. Deepa Mehta was born in Amritsar, India, but has lived in Cananda since 1973.

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