Photo and poster: Fox Searchlight
By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel
Under the circumstances, Deepa Mehta has made the bravest and most courageous film of the year. Ms. Mehta experienced five years of death threats, arson (including the destruction of a film set) and riots -- this time period was the time that Ms. Metha and her crew were forced to close production of "Water", which takes place in 1930's India, just as the patriarchal rule of the British colony is being threatened by the onset of Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent revolution.
While India is under siege, one of a closeted group of widows shunned by society breaks ranks and explores taboos forbiddingseeking romance with another man once their prior husbands have deceased. India's Lisa Ray, Bollywood actor extraordinaire, plays Kalyani, a widow who dares to follow her heart and fall in love with erudite philosopher scholar Naranyan (fellow Bollywood star John Abraham) who espouses the tenets of Gandhi's teachings. These dual winds of change in India are at odds with the existence of both its sexist society and the status of the widows, whom like women at large in India then (and perhaps to a degree today) are shackled by the religious book The Texts Of Manu, which in part outlines the permitted subjugation of women.
Compelling, hopeful, heartbreaking and uplifting, Ms. Metha's film is filled with sumptuous visuals and amazing acting from newcomer Sarala, who had never acted on the big screen prior to this film, couldn't speak any English or Indian languages and was just eight-years-old during its production. "Water" rounds out Deepa Mehta's controversial trilogy of films that previously brought "Fire" and "Earth" to viewers.
The PopcornReel.com film review of "Water" first appeared on April 25, 2006.
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