The production team had planned to release Mother India to commemorate the tenth anniversary of India’s independence on 15 August 1957, but the film was released over two months later. It premiered at the Liberty Cinema in Mumbai on 25 October 1957, during Diwali.
The score and soundtrack for Mother India was composed by Naushad. Mehboob Khan had worked on eight films with Naushad and developed a rapport with him. The lyrics were by Shakeel Badayuni. The soundtrack consists of 12 songs and features vocals by Mohammed Rafi, Shamshad Begum, Lata Mangeshkar, and Manna Dey. Mother India is the earliest example of a Hindi film containing Western classical music and Hollywood-style orchestra.
For shooting the flood scene, a farmer agreed to flood 500 acres (200 ha) of his land. In the exodus scene following the flood, 300 bullock carts, 200 farmers and many horses, tractors and ploughs were used.
There was a protracted scene in the film in which Radha runs between burning haystacks in search for her son Birju, a renegade bandit, who was hiding there. The fire scene was shot in Umra, Gujarat, by burning bales of hay. Nargis and Dutt acted in the fire scene without doubles. On 1 March 1957, an accident occurred during the fire scene when the wind direction changed and the fire grew out of control, trapping Nargis. She was saved by Dutt, who quickly grabbed a blanket, plunged inside, and rescued her. Shooting halted temporarily as both had sustained injuries. Dutt was hospitalised for the burns and Nargis helped nurse him. Nargis—a popular actress at the time—fell in love with Dutt, who was in early stages of his film career and played her son in the film; they married on 11 March 1958. Nargis wished to marry soon after the film, but Khan protested that real-life marriage of the onscreen mother-son would be disastrous for the film. Owing to their relationship, Nargis also found it difficult to perform a scene where she beat Dutt with a lathi.