The success of such films as Monsoon Wedding and the increasing exposure of western audiences to a number of ambitious Bollywood epics has, perhaps, made many of us less snooty about the unabashed mix of melodrama, music and dance in Hindi cinema. One striking feature of this monumental landmark film is the skill with which the plot is unfolded (get out three if not four hankies), and underscored with a series of heartrending songs. Of course, we're not talking subtlety here, as the defiant heroine battles famine, flood, a fiendish moneylender and sundry tragic accidents in the ceaseless struggle to raise her sons and retain the family's few acres. True, there are dull spots and the overripe supporting cast pale beside Nargis' 'force of nature' central performance, but overall it's a wallowy treat.
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