Much before Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, the Neecha Nagar of Chetan Anand had already made a mark on International film festivals. The film was a Hindi adaptation in an Indian setting of Maxim Gorky’s play The Lower Depths. The film proved to be a pioneering effort in social realism in Indian cinema and paved the way for many other parallel cinema films by other directors.
The film can be related to the era of British raj in India where a capitalist man with his sharp suits and cigars is referred to as Sarkar. And an idealistic youth from the village dares to stand against his oppression. Though Sarkar is backed by money and wants to divert a dirty stream through a village so that the villages will vacate the area and later on , he can build modern apartments there. He does everything from bribery to threats to move the villagers out until his own daughter joins the struggle with the villagers.
Chetan Anand has represented both men and women equally fighting against the oppressors. His association with Indian theater of People’s Association(IPTA) was visible in his work. The film was widely appreciated because it inspired many directors of parallel cinema in India.