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Awesome: 38.1%
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3 reviews, 24 user ratings

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Water (2006)
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by EricDSnider

"The oppression of women in the time of Gandhi."
4 stars

A little girl is awakened by her father, who asks if she remembers getting married. She says no. Anyway, her father says, her husband is dead. She's a widow now. "For how long?" she asks, but she doesn't get an answer. Her father can't bear to tell her that she'll be a widow for the rest of her life.

This is India in 1938, and ancient Hindu texts command that widows remain chaste and unmarried, lest they be reincarnated as jackals (!). The girl, named Chuyia (played by a little cherub named Sarala), is the central figure in "Water," the third part in Deepa Mehta's political trilogy that began with "Fire" and "Earth."

Mehta, an Indian woman who moved to Canada in her 20s, creates a powerfully real (but cinematically lovely) view of 1930s India, at a time when Gandhi was coming to prominence and urging Indians to get out from under British rule. Indian women, however, particularly widows, remained oppressed.

Chuyia is sent to a small compound where a dozen or so widows live, most of them a great deal older than her. (How she came to be married is never explained, but we are given to understand that child brides were common, and that there's every chance she never even met the man.) At 8, Chuyia is curious, stubborn and cheerful like a child should be, and she quickly befriends Kalyani (Lisa Ray), a beautiful young widow who shares her enthusiasm for life. Kalyani is in a different class altogether, though, being pimped out by the head woman Madhumati (the single-named Manorama) in order to bring much-needed income to the house. That widows are supposed to remain unmarried yet can work as prostitutes is just one of many contradictions in the archaic rules the women live by.

While in the city one day, Kalyani and Chuyia meet Narayan (John Abraham), a handsome law student. He's an idealist and a nationalist, eager to follow Gandhi's teachings. He and Kalyani are smitten with each other. Can she defy her keepers and remarry?

Though the details of the story are foreign to Western thinking, the general themes of forbidden love and conflicted religious feelings are familiar to almost everyone. Mehta includes another widow character, Shakuntala (Seema Biswas), who experiences some of the same conflicts as Kalyani. While many of the widows are complacent and resigned, Shakuntala questions whether this is what the Scriptures truly teach. She turns to a local priest for guidance, devoutly obeying the rules in the meantime just in case.

Mehta's regular cinematographer Giles Nuttgens beautifully photographs the Sri Lankan scenery (Sri Lanka because threats and pressures in India made it impossible to shoot the film there). The nights are tinted in blue, the Ganges river looks deep and strong, and the countrysides are alive with color. The film's visuals hold almost as much power as its story does.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12760&reviewer=247
originally posted: 04/02/06 16:56:44
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2005 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Deep Focus Film Fest For more in the 2006 Deep Focus Film Fest series, click here.

User Comments

7/10/10 brian Manages to take a fascinating story and make it bo-o-o-ring! Looks great, at least. 3 stars
5/11/07 jaideep singh a fucked up movie 1 stars
5/05/07 Ahmed One word for it " Inspiring" 5 stars
1/06/07 Frank Rountree hey, I only watched cause I was desparate, YUCK! 2 stars
10/16/06 shantan flawless movie.congracys deepa mehta and the cast,hope she makes many such movies. 5 stars
9/17/06 kathy rose As a widow I was struck to my core by this film 5 stars
8/29/06 K.Sear Unfortunately, it just couldn't be moved by this film. "Fire" set my expectations too high 3 stars
8/15/06 Rohit Proud: Made by an Indian Disappointed: The practice still runs in India! 5 stars
7/15/06 jcjs wow, sad, beautiful, smart, graceful, much finer than 'Geisha', visual orgasm, wonderfu 5 stars
6/25/06 Harriet Epstein A little slow at times, but overall interesting, exotic, aesthetic and worth seeing 4 stars
6/23/06 jo the visual puts you in a meditative state 5 stars
6/19/06 g.wickremesooriya fantastic.......... hard to imagine that this practice is still prevalent in India! 5 stars
6/08/06 Dipesh Dhakal From every angle the film is perfect 5 stars
6/01/06 San Lamar check it out 3 stars
5/29/06 Dee Beautifully shot and acted 5 stars
5/23/06 Natasha and Noah Brenner Outstanding movie, beautiful photography 5 stars
5/15/06 phil s Cliched feel good story. Serious are touched upon, but its all too sanitary and trivialized 2 stars
5/06/06 pulkit Excellent movie 5 stars
4/27/06 Dilip Dhakal A moving piece of artwork, boldly challenges the outdated practices of Indian society. 5 stars
4/16/06 Babu Shankar An Highly thought provocoing movie.it is sad to know that this tradition is still continuin 5 stars
4/09/06 Rina Siddiqui Excellent 5 stars
11/17/05 M Smith Best Movie of The Year 5 stars
9/09/05 Meredith Halpern Wow. An incredibly powerful movie. Beautiful to watch. 5 stars
8/16/05 nehal cool 3 stars
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  28-Apr-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 29-Aug-2006



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Deepa Mehta

Written by
  Deepa Mehta

  Lisa Ray
  Seema Biswas
  Kulbhushan Kharbanda
  Waheeda Rehman
  Raghuvir Yadav
  Vinay Pathak

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