Dedh Bigha Zameen Movie Review

Rahul Desai


Pulkit’s Dedh Bigha Zameen revolves around a simple, middle-class man named Anil (Pratik Gandhi), who sets out to sell his family land to fund the dowry for his sister’s wedding. But he gets a rude shock when he discovers that it’s under litigation.

Mocks Our Artistic Conditioning

The film is so arrow-straight and sober that it almost mocks our artistic conditioning. You expect things to happen – serious revenge, playful revenge, comeuppance, justice, a beginning, an end, all those things that storytelling thrives on.

Life Is No Film

It insists that life is no film. It’s a social-issue drama where the message is that most stories can’t afford to craft a message. The establishment is so all-consuming that not even a movie can beat it.

Works in Theory

In theory, this is a worthy idea. The entire point of the film is that it has nothing new to say – fine on (news)paper, but strange on screen. I like that it riffs on our mainstream perception of heroism and social justice.

A Helpless Journey

They also can’t teach anyone a lesson because they don’t have the skill or resources to do that. At best, Anil can display brief spurts of spirit and rage. He can perhaps find purpose in his fight, but he knows it’s going to be a futile one. 

From Do To Dedh

I get that the title – and the treatment of this film – is a modern ode to Bimal Roy’s brand of neo-realism. But Dedh Bigha Zameen is more than half an acre short of its target. It’s so ‘real’ that it’s nearly boring. In fact, its decision to be boring is supposed to be brave.