Do Bigha Zamin tells the story of a peasant whose meager two acres come in the way of the landlord's scheme to sell a large parcel of the village land to speculators. The landlord fabricates evidence of an unpaid debt and the peasant must leave for the city to earn the cash the landlord requires. The acting in the film veers between the rapid responsiveness of performers in a melodrama and the slow surfacing of responses characteristic of naturalism. At the landlord's, the peasant (played by the deeply intelligent actor Balraj Sahni) acts by formula, but his leave-taking from his wife is simple; his fears for her emerge into natural, unemphatic expression on his face and in his bearing. The lighting, too, varies between the full lighting characteristic of Bombay sets and the chiaroscuro of available light cinematography. The landlord's house is amply lit, but the rickshaw-puller's quarters in Calcutta retain a natural look of charcoal dilapidation.