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UK: Pathe Distribution
Cast: Aamir Khan, Nandita Das, Rahul Khanna, Maia Sethna, Kitu Gidwani, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Eric Peterson, Maaia Sethna, Raghubir Yadav, Arif Zakaria
Director: Deepa Mehta
Language: Hindi / English
UK: 105 mins
UK Certificate: 15 for infrequent strong language, horror and sex
UK Release Date: 14 April 2000
Lenny (Maia Sethna), is an eight-year-old Parsee girl who is growing up rich in pre-partition Lahore in 1947, enjoying the warm, enveloping life that loving parents and a filial household staff of four brings. Lenny travels daily to the nearby Queens Gardens with her beautiful Ayah (nanny), Shanta (Nandita Das), a young Hindu woman with the kind of curves and smile that ensures a constant supply of eager male suitors. These men are a mixed bunch: Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, and similarly the staff-members serving Lenny and her well-heeled family are a happy collection of the religious groups represented in India. It is an entirely pleasing world, peopled by her beloved Ayah, Imam Din, the genial cook (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), by Dil Navaz, (Aamir Khan), the Ice Candy Man, a rogue, who is Lenny's hero, by Hasan, the Masseur, who invents oils made from pearl dust and fish eggs, (Rahul Khanna), and also by her precocious Cousin, Adi.
When the film opens, the British are finally preparing to quit their empire in India and the searing process of splitting British India into Independent India and Pakistan is about to begin. Bitter arguments transform into slogan shouting mobs and arson. Angry Hindus storm through Lahore one day, and angry Muslims the next. Then the serious killing begins. Hindus and Sikhs attack Muslims; Muslims attack Hindus and Sikhs. The savagery is thrust into Lenny's idyllic world. The film shows how Lenny, her family and the lives of the people Lenny knows are affected. The destruction of innocence by desire and greed wearing the garb of religion and nationalism was the price of this sectarian war.