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August 11, 1999
Release Date Set for `Earth'
A P Kamath in New York
Based on Bapsi Sidhwa's semi-autographical novel, Cracking India, the movie is set in Lahore in 1947 when violence and social upheaval threatened to split India apart.
It will open in New York at the Lincoln Plaza cinemas and the Quad cinema, to be followed by a national release by Zeitgeist Films. The movie is expected to play in at least 20 movie houses in the first month, and would expand to more theaters if the box-office is promising.
Mehta's Fire grossed about $ 1 million in North America, making it a profitable venture. Earth is expected to gross much more mainly because of Aamir Khan. The trade publication Variety lauded Khan's performance in the movie. It also praised newcomer Rahul Khanna, actor-turned-politician Vinod Khanna's son.
At the center of this poignant and dramatic tale is Lenny (Maia Sethna), an eight-year-old Parsee girl growing up in a wealthy, non-partisan family. Stricken by polio, Lenny is cared for by an entourage of friends and relatives, most notably her charming nanny Shanta (Nandita Das).
But these relationships are soon to be devastated by the massive, impending political rift that will result in vicious bloodshed between Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus when India becomes independent from Britain. Somehow, amid the carnage and terror, a love affair blossoms between Shanta and one of her many suitors, a peace advocating Muslim, Hassan (Khanna).
Also vying for Shanta's heart is the Ice Candy Man (Khan), who undergoes a chilling metamorphosis as a result of the chaos, and will stop at nothing to exact his personal vengeance. Shanta and Hassan cannot protect Lenny from the conflict surrounding her and she becomes a pawn in a cruel game that robs her of her innocence
In addition to directing the film, Mehta served as co-producer and adapted the screenplay from Sidhwa's novel.
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