When Deepa Mehta first began filming WATER in 2000 angry fundamentalist mobs burned her sets and threatened her life. The Indian government claimed it could not protect her and the project had to wait four years before finally filming in Sri Lanka. Her film has raised the ire of extremists because it challenges the Hindu customs that dictate that widows considered half-dead after the loss of their husbands must be closeted in holy ashrams--a practice that still exists today. Set in the 1930s the film tells the story of eight-year old Chuyia whose husband dies before she even meets him. Her parents shave her head and whisk her away to a house of widows where the women sleep on the ground and beg in the streets to earn their puny portion of rice. Chuyia feisty and resilient comes into this world like a ray of light and soon the women are rethinking their mute acceptance of their fate. Her closest friend and ally is the lovely Kalyani and soon a forbidden romance begins to develop between Kalyani and Narayana a young Brahmin man who following the teachings of Gandhi has denounced injustice. The film is sumptuously beautiful Chuyia is utterly winsome and despite the harsh social issues at its heart it often feels light and lively Chuyia and Kalyani play games and dance Chuyia steals sweets for a dying old widow the women dance and paint each others faces during a colour festival and the Cinderella-story romance between Kalyani and Narayana shimmers with the promise of salvation and happiness. Mehta however knows it would be disingenuous to allow such an easy resolution to such a dire situation and the final chapter of WATER takes a tragic turn.
Release Date: 22 October 2007
Certificate: 12 - Suitable for Persons Aged 12 or Over
Sound: Dolby Digital
Running Time: 114 minutes
Production Year: 2006
Main Language: Hindi
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