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|Index||149 reviews in total|
This beautiful and poignant film also packs quite a punch; the sorry
plight of Hindu widows in traditional Indian society is made evident.
Deepa Mehta has clearly set out to make a film with a message but she
lets the story carry the message and she does not demonize the
supporters of ancient oppressive practices, some of whom are motivated
by faith rather than self-interest. Strangely the film's beauty
undercuts to some extent the political message: I can imagine a devout
Hindu seeing it as supporting the traditional view.
As explained in the film, according to ancient texts a Hindu widow had three choices; she could join her husband on his funeral pyre, she could marry his younger brother (if available) or she could go into an Ashram (refuge) with other widows and live a life of self-denial to atone for the sin of having lost her husband.. It is the third option Chuyia (Sarala) takes on the death of her husband in 1938. Chuyia however is only nine years old and scarcely remembers getting married.
The Ashram is a poor place, self-supported by the proceeds of begging and prostitution, but there is camaraderie amongst the women (who are of all ages) and Chuyia, initially, is not badly treated. The focus shifts to Kalyani (Lisa Ray) the Ashram's "jewel" who becomes involved with a young political activist Narayana (John Abraham), a supporter of Gandhi.
The film is not so much an attack on religion as on particular beliefs. I've no doubt one could live the life of a devout Hindu without believing that widows are responsible for their husband's deaths just as one can be a devout Christian without believing in slavery, or that the earth is flat, or was created in 4004BC. Although the film is set just prior to World War 2 there are undoubtedly many supporters of the ancient texts still out there Mehta was prevented from filming in India by some of them and "Water" was eventually filmed in Sri Lanka. I find it impossible to have any sympathy for their position because it really amounts to using the practices of a society which has long passed away to defend an economic interest, or rather to excuse the abandonment by her family of a woman who has had the ill-luck to lose her husband. As Chuyia asks, where is the Ashram for the widowers? Also, whatever could be said for child marriage on social or economic grounds 2000 years ago, there is no possible justification for it now.
It's a great pity the film was banned in India and Pakistan it is a film for the citizens of those countries rather than me, but it is striking to watch and I suspect, not easy to forget.
I saw this film on a Saturday afternoon in a theater with about 40 other people, split about 60/40, females to males. All ages although the younger viewers were mainly female. (late teens) Towards the end, as I was choking back tears and grabbing at Kleenex's, I looked around as there was total silence from the audience. It was AWED SILENCE, people! Every woman was bawling her eyes out and the men, without exception, were scrunched down into their collars, staring intently, holding back tears. This is Deepa's finest hour. She can retire now knowing she has made a worthy film. I would have voted 10 but there were a few technical glitches such as one moment were the color/lighting changed for about 3 seconds in an important scene and then snapped back. No blame to Deepa, though. I have sent several to see the film and all have raved about it, Can hardly wait to buy the DVD and see it again. The criticisms were political and should not be considered. Any film that criticizes aspects of a religion gets blasted from fundamentalists. This film is NOT a political statement. It is entertainment based on a political statement. It should not be missed. Brava!!!
In 2001, well-regarded Iranian director Majid Majidi came out with
Baran, a film about a young girl forced to pretend to be a boy in order
to bring money to her immigrant Afghani family, living illegally in
Iran and not permitted to work. Baran means 'rain' in Farsi, and the
allegory of water was a very important one thematically within the
Baran was later thematically pilfered by a less successful film, Osama, which dealt with the harsh reality of an anti-feminist Taliban in Afghanistan, where a girl is caught pretending to be a boy by the Taliban regime, and the horrible consequences of her actions - only committed for the purpose of survival.
Water is similar to both of these films on several thematic levels. Deepa Mehta finishes he trilogy on a powerful note. She gives us the story of two women, each trying to discover a sense of self-worth and purpose while trapped in a seemingly endless life of forced confinement. she also gives us the story of a woman who is not only trying to keep her faith but understand it, and a man who is looking for change in a world of stagnation and traditionalism.
The feminist ideal is a prominent one, as is survival against the harshest of odds. Inhumanity on one level contrasted against the theme of renewal, both physically and spiritually - the essence of water, the ever-moving, indispersable, and essential aspect of life itself. But Water succeeds on the level of Baran - unlike Osama, which preaches incessantly, hitting you over the head with its point until your concussed with what the director has to say. Water, like Baran, is subtle, preferring to let the human side of the story tell you what you need to know, and showing us the necessity for change, for hope, for unbroken faith, without holding our hands through the process.
Mehta has given us a very successful film. What struck me most about this film was that the subject matter is one that the Western world would likely exclaim as being incomprehensible - that of widows being thought of as untouchable, and spiritual pollution (as though it was their will that their husbands die on them...) - and yet so much of the Western World exists in this film. This is not merely an Eastern film that we should look at and cluck our tongues, saying 'those crazy Indians!' These issues exist in our back yards - the ill treatment of foreigners, of neighbours, of our own peoples.
This film is very heavy, but there is a light side to it - the message of Ghandi, and the promise of renewal of spirit. That faith is not something to twist to your own beliefs, but something for your beliefs to be twisted to. We are constantly reminded of Ghandi's teachings - but we are never preached to. Instead, Ghandi could almost be an absent narrator - his voice is only heard for a brief instant near the end of the film - instead we hear his voice through the voice of Narayan, who is the avatar of Ghandi in the film, and the avatar of change.
Water teaches us that problems exist, and that many are rooted in our own traditions and beliefs - often misinterpreted or twisted by us to fit our agendas. The British can't be scapegoats for THIS set of issues (though they were responsible for plenty of others). Change is hard to come by, but the one thing that is eternal is Water. Sure, there are a few moments of unsubtle prodding in the film, but the fine acting and smart writing overcame any moments of forced drama. And the heart-wrenching twists within the story were surprising in their finality, and not Disneyesque tear-jerking moments. Our faith (and not necessarily religious faith) must be like water - for without either, we cannot hope to survive. 9.5/10.
I just saw this last night at the TIFF with no expectations (originally
didn't even want to see it). But what an enjoyable film this was!!! The
dialogue was quite witty, the stars were attractive and gave very
believable performances (my friend said that she was so drawn into it
that she forgot those people were just acting and weren't really living
the life of the characters). The story had the audience empathize with
the situation and all those involved, with lightened bits of humour
intermixed with sad/dramatic parts throughout.
What captivated me the most was how beautifully filmed each scene was (in that respect, it reminded me of House of Flying Daggers). The stunning cinematography, vivid colours were all so carefully planned. In every frame, I can envision a beautiful photograph which can be composed from it.
The score was also very good and added to the mood of the film.
Go see it if you have the opportunity, you will not be disappointed (oh, might want to bring some Kleenex tho').
oh, and since it was at TIFF, Deepa spoke a few words (she appears to be very down to earth and sincere) and the cast was also present (John Abraham and Lisa Ray are absolutely gorgeous but very modest and subtle). These people did such a fabulous job, but remain so approachable and true. Am so proud of them!!!!
It was on a lark that four of us attended the movie 'Water'. We ranged in age from 24 to 41 and we're all still talking about it two weeks later, in fact we're planning to go see it again before it's out of the theater. The movie entertained and educated, while giving at once an insight into the beauty of the country and the viciousness of some cultural norms. It seems impossible to believe that some of the things in this movie could have actually happened, and that perhaps today there are women (widows) living in similar circumstances. The characters in this movie are easy to identify with, to love and to despise. Despite the bleak conditions portrayed in the movie, there are moments of wonder and comedy and great love. The vistas are stunning, as are the character portrayals. Enjoy this movie on the big screen and then rush out to buy your own copy as soon as it's available. I too now 'want a ladoo'.
I just wanted to say that the symbolism of water in this movie was incredible. There was rain and rivers as well as drinking water. You could really specify that it was in terms to purify the characters and wash away negativities that they had lived through. Water was really a wonderful movie by my favorite director of all time, Deepa Mehta. She is honestly brilliant and I was amazed by the beauty and cinematography of this movie. It surpassed that of any other movie shes done and it shows. However, I believe that Deepa Mehta really drew a lot of lines in the script because it was not her familiar work. Her first movie in the trilogy, Fire, was very controversial because she did not censor it at all. You can really tell that she took out some parts from fear of the idiotic fundamentalists and political parties. Though she did that, it still had a meaninful moral that was gracious and the entire movie really was a refreshing burst of water.
One of the most powerful movies I have ever seen! The actors were fearless. The story was honest, raw and moving. I feel changed by it. Deepa Mehta' created something out of love, vision and fearlessness and it shows. I was brought to tears by the end of the film, not because of pity for the characters but rather out of pride. Though the film deals with heavy issues the actors carried it with dignity. The script articulates the tragedy and hypocrisy these women must bare but it also illustrates the quiet revolution we must all experience in order to grow, in order to change. I have seen Earth, Fire and now Water and Mehta has done justice to all of them.
I felt really really sad after watching this movie. After watching a
movie like this one feels empathy towards the women. We know women and
children are being treating worse than animals...by patriarchy.
Most women in the western world to not even know the meaning of this word. In North America what is the worse thing that happens to us...we encounter betrayal and gossip mostly by other women. We are too busy comparing ourselves to even appreciate our rights. Oprah (has said) that we are lucky just to be born in North America.
All the women in this movie were strong willful characters, like many Indian women they accepted their fate, BUT they still made choices. Lisa Ray's character still fell in love despite her destiny. Despite her circumstances she was so mentally, spiritually, emotionally and overall more evolved than John's character.
One even feels empathy towards him, as a man he is so out of touch with reality...he lives life according to his idealism. This is how he copes with struggles in his life. He choices are also constrained by circumstance From an outsiders point of view, John's character seems to have it all, respect, a sweet mom (Waheeda). I loved WR in Guide that is one of my favorites. His world shatters when he learns of his fathers secrets...
Lisa's character knows her fate, yet she takes the initiative to follow her heart. As a Canadian I am really proud of WATER, I usually do not watch these kinds of movies but sometimes a wake up call is necessary especially when we are wrapped up in our own selfish needs. Water is masterpiece...I am proud of Lisa Ray for taking the time and actually learning about the craft of acting.
WATER is delivered likened to a fable, yet the story told is not at all
a fantasy. In fact, another film, "White Rainbow" by w-d Dharan
Mandrayar, delivers a tale of four women with similar subject matter in
a modern day setting vs. the 1930's Colonial India of Mehta's "Water."
The deplorable deprivation situation of the widows of India with
powerless means is real.
Check out the production notes on WATER, you'd learn of the travails and hurdles filmmaker Mehta has to go through, determined and dauntlessly she forged on. We are fortunate to be able to see the result (thanks to Fox Searchlight Pictures distribution). Perhaps the casting ten years after could very well meant to be: Seema Biswas as Shakuntula - the protective, courageous Didi with unyielding faith; Lisa Ray as Kalyani, the beautiful 'sole bread-winner' with lovely hair and a tender companion to young Chuyia; John Abraham as Narayan, the idealistic young man returning to the village after his law exam and smitten by Kalyani; introducing the talented 8 year old Sarala from a village near Galle, Sri Lanka playing Chuyia, the 'girl widow'- she sure captures the spirit of the story/film.
Seeing what these women had to endure/endured all these years, prompts us to think how lucky we are - not to assume/take for granted the goodness and abundance we so readily have. The struggles/problems we may have compared to their grievous hardship sure makes one rethink - putting things in perspective. The film is not preachy at all, in fact, it's dramatic with mystery and secrets, not depressive in spite of the storyline but contains dashes of hope, laughter and tender moments. An impressive production all round, with cinematography by Giles Nuttgens, who collaborated with w-d Mehta on her trilogy installments: FIRE 1996 and EARTH 1998; music complements from Mychael Danna, who participated with w-d Mira Nair in "Monsoon Wedding" and "Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love" and on fellow Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan's ventures.
The film, with its controversial political ripples 'at home', is a human story with much kindness at heart. It's intriguing and a tear-jerker for me - it's naturally emotional. Somehow WATER also reminds me of director Jag Mundhra's "Bavandar" (2000, India: Hindi title aka "The Sand Storm") - another worthwhile film from India.
Water is certainly an excellent film by an excellent director. She has
crafted a drama that blends a love story with social commentary, humour
and the challenges of faith. The characterizations are subtle yet
complex. The cinematography is outstanding.
However, what I wonder about arises from the plot outline and film description posted on the IMDb, which describe Narayana (John Abraham's character) as being of lower caste and his father's home as being a "hovel". Did I see a different version of Water? In the film I saw Narayana and his family are high caste Brahmans and the "hovel" is a mansion. Perhaps someone can explain this to me.
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