Set in colonial India against Gandhi's rise to power, it's the story of 8-year-old Chuyia, who is widowed and sent to a home to live in penitence; once there, Chuyia's feisty presence deeply affects the lives of the other residents.
A thesis picture. In 1938, Gandhi's party is making inroads in women's rights. Chuyia, a child already married but living with her parents, becomes a widow. By tradition, she is unceremoniously left at a bare and impoverished widows' ashram, beside the Ganges during monsoon season. The ashram's leader pimps out Kalyani, a young and beautiful widow, for household funds. Narayan, a follower of Gandhi, falls in love with her. Can she break with tradition and religious teaching to marry him? The ashram's moral center is Shakuntala, deeply religious but conflicted about her fate. Can she protect Kalyani or Chuyia? Amid all this water, is rebirth possible or does tradition drown all?Written by
Famous Indian actors Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, who were the initial choices for the roles of Shakuntala and Kalyani even shot some scenes for this movie. However, that footage was scrapped as the filming could not be finished due to altercations by Hindu Fundamentalists. See more »
In the scene when Chuiya is first running up the steps after Kaalu, she is barefoot. When the camera switches perspectives, she has a pair of sandals on. In the next frame, she is barefoot again. See more »
Why are we widows sent here? There must be a reason for it.
One less mouth to feed. Four saris saved, one bed, and a corner is saved in the family home. There is no other reason you are here. Disguised as religion, it's just about money.
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In addition to the Hindi language version, an English language version was also shot (back-to-back). See more »
The history of how this film came to be is in itself dramatic - filmmaker Deepa Mehta's tenacity along with producer David Hamilton reaped the memorable result of WATER
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.
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