In one famine inflicted village of Northern India, poor family of Shankar (Balraj Sahni) owns 2 bighas of land. Shankar's land is surrounded by a local landlord's acres of lands. The rich landlord, partnering with few rich businessmen, is planning to construct a big mill on his land. The landlord can achieve this dream of money showering mill only if Shankar sells his land to him.
Shankar is ruled by the court to pay the Landlord's debt as he does not comply with the landlord's offer to sell his land in exchange of the debt. If Shankar doesn't manage to clear his debt (sum of 235 rupees) in 3 months, his land goes for auction. He doesn't get loan in the village so he moves to the cruel city of Calcutta to look for a job. His misfortune doesn't seem to lessen as he spots his son inside the train following him to the city. Too late to return his son back home, Calcutta welcomes them with all the cruelties it could offer to them.
I was watching 'Do Bigha Zamin' 61 years after the production year. It didn't appear a lesser cinema to me although the time observed very few technological innovations. Unspoiled by technological tricks and powered by sincerity in its characters, Bimal Roy's Cannes Winner at International Category (1954) gripped me in its true to life plots. The strength of this socialist themed drama lies in its construction of narrative through organic sequences and twists. Plots have been created logically and woven together to represent an era highly infected by feudal system. Although melodramatic in most of high emotional points, the story does not feed one with exaggerated emotions and unnecessary texts common among dominant Indian cinemas.
Actors have well played their parts. Balraj Sahni as poor Shankar is outstanding and very accurate in his wretched character. Nirupa Roy portrays an ordinary village wife not too well because of her trained gestures. Son (Rattan Kumar) is not that memorable for his naive performance, but his shoe polisher friend looks the one from street.
Highly influenced from neo - realist Italian cinemas, Do Bigha Zamin is considered trend setter in Indian parallel cinemas.