“yaad hain bitiya,jisese tumhara vivah hua tha?” “nahi”“wo ab nadi ke bhet chadh chuka hian.Tum ab widhwa ho chuki ho”“Kab tak Baba?”
With these innocent words Water portrays a very sensitive and thought provoking issue, which has haunted Indian women since time immemorial. Written and directed by Deepa Mehta, this movie took nearly five years to be ready for release .
Deepa Mehta had once seen a widow ,in a state of total devastation, on the banks of Ganges in Varanasi and then came the idea to bring to the world, a world full of pain. The shooting for the movie started in 2000 in Varanasi but due to the protests and death threat received by the unit of the movie by Indians, everything had to be stopped. It took five years to get back to the movie and this time the place chosen to shot the movie was Srilanka .Water was shot in just 45 days, under the cover of secrecy .Although the movie was completed in 2004 ,it was released in India only in March, 2007.
The movie dates back to 1938, the period of Gandhi and the freedom movement. Chuhiya(Sarala),an eight year old girl is left by her father at a widow ashram –an institution for widows, after her elderly husband dies. The ashram is supposedly a home for the widows where they are deprived of delicious food and prevented from keeping long hair and even thinking independently. The widows take this as their karma. The most pathetic aspect of their sad reality is depicted in te form of the character of Madumati (Manorama).Being the head of the ashram, she misuses the powers and by day she sits ordering the other widows and spends the nights, smoking ganja. Also to fund the ashram, Madhumati uses the widows as prostitutes for the aristocrats and gentry. Kalyani(Lisa Ray)is a victim of these evil pratices .Kalyani takes these wrongs as a test put to her by her Lord Krishna.
The entry of Chuhiya in the ashram in someways signifies a change the life inside it. Kalyani and Chuihya enjoy the joyous relationship of each others friendship. With Chuhiya as an agent ,Kalyani meets Narayan(John Abraham) .An immediate attraction follows in their very first meeting. Narayan, born in an affluent family is a staunch supporter of Mahatma Gandhi. Kalyani and Narayan who are in love with each other want to get married but the Indian customs forbid a widow to remarry. Kalyani is considered a sinner. The end of the movie focuses on Shakuntala(Seema Biswas) ,one of those 14 widows living in the ashram. Although educated, Shakuntala lives her life of a widow as dictated by the society. But encouraged by the decisions of Sarala and Kalyani, she takes the initiative to break free from the bondage imposed on her.
The serene cinematography by Giles Nuttgens, background score by A.R .Rahman, apt costume designs by Dolly Ahluwallia and soft but heart stirring dialogues is what makes Water different from other regular intense movies.