A young girl with polio, Lenny (Maia Sethna), narrates the story through the voice of her adult self (Shabana Azmi). She is from a wealthy Parsi family who hopes to remain neutral to the rising tensions between Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims in the area. She is adored and protected by her parents, Bunty (Kitu Gidwani) and Rustom (Arif Zakaria) and is cared for by her Ayah, a beautiful Hindu woman, Shanta (Nandita Das). Both Dil Navaz, the Ice-Candy Man (Aamir Khan) and Hassan, the Masseur (Rahul Khanna) are Muslim and in love with Shanta. Shanta, Dil, and Hassan are part of a small group of friends from different faiths (some of whom work for Lenny's family) who spend their days together in the park. With partition, however, this once unified group of friends becomes divided and tragedy ensues.
Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and states that Earth, "is effective because it doesn't require much history from its viewers, explains what needs to be known, and has a universal message."The New York Times described it as "a powerful and disturbing reminder of how a civilization can suddenly crack under certain pressures."The New Yorker argues that, "Deepa Mehta handles her material convincingly, and the cast is so likable that they wear the larger themes like beautiful garments."Rediff.com notes that, "Aamir Khan has probably given the best performance of his life. It is hard to imagine another actor bringing alive the nuances of the ice-candy man the way he does."Planet Bollywood gave the film a 9.5 out of 10 and stated that, "Earth is strongly recommended to those who want to see a different type of Hindi film and who are tired of the usual boy meets girl stories and revenge dramas."