Just got back from the Toronto International Film Festival opening, featuring Deepa Mehta’s latest movie from her elements trilogy – Water. A great choice by far. If there is anything that I could say was a fault with the movie, it was that there seemed to be too many sub story lines. The movie takes place in the holy city of Varanassi during pre-independence India and the time of Gandhi – Gandhi’s political waves are the backdrop to many of the conversations in the movie. The focus of the movie is the way in which widows were (and perhaps are still) treated .
The fault lies with the fact that it seems to bring up many other issues such as social standing based on skin tone, child abuse, prostitution which take away from the primary issue of the widows. But on the otherhand, it lends to show the complex nature of India life. In fact Mehta alludes to this when she says that many Indians have writtent to her to express this concern. An example of this is the young girl Chuyia (played by Sarala) who is made a widow at the age of 8. It does not explain how this is possible and Mehta allows viewers’ imaginations to run wild with thoughts of instituitionalised child molestation. Although, children were married off at very young ages, it was not marriage as per the western notion of marriage. It would be better compared to adoption – a child would be married off for some future date, but until then the groom pays for the child’s family to raise the bride until which time she is old enough to be with the groom. Not a practice that is to be promoted either, but none the less, it would help western audiences if this were explained.
But that withstanding, Water is an outstanding movie – from the production, the direction, and the acting. Lisa Ray and John Abraham deliver extremely strong performances. After the show we had the chance to meet the actors – Lisa Ray is even more beautiful in person than on screen! And my accompanying friend was going goo-goo eyed over Me. Abraham as well – we both left in good spirits! I definitely recommend this one. There is a great interview with Mehta at Rediff which is worth a read.