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Set against the epic backdrop of the River Ganges in 1938 during Mahatma Gandhi's rise to power, this is the inspiring tale of an eight year old Hindu girl named Chuyia. Chuyia's life is suddenly changed when she is widowed and sent to a home where Hindu widows must live in penitence. She refuses to accept her fate and her feisty presence begins to affect the lives of other residents, including a beautiful young widow, Kalyani (Lisa Ray of Bollywood/Hollywood) who has fallen in love with Ghandian idealist, Narayan (Bollywood star John Abraham).
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The director depicts the life of Indian widows. The plot is set in the ancient city of India - Varanasi, in the widow ashram. Arranged to get marry at the age of 7 or 8 and soon loosing their husbands, they have three choices: to burn themselves together with the body of their husbands, to marry their husbands' younger brother if husband's family agree or to live the life of celibacy and refusal, separated from the society which means being bold, wearing white, not owning anything, not laughing, not eating fried or spiced food etc.
Deepa Mehta's story is about [...] widow Chuyia (Sarala) who is brought back to her parental home after her husband's death and then delivered to the Banaras' widow ashram by her father. She is just a child and doesn't understand that she will have to spend here all her life. There she meets other widows and we can see how different their personalities are, how much they crave for the world, how much imprisoned they are in these white saris. Chuya befriends with one of the widows - Kaliyani (Lisa Ray). She is the only one young widow in the ashram and also the only one to own long hair. Behind this, there is a reason also. After Chuya comes to ashram, Kaliyani meets a young and kind youth from the Brahmin caste - Raj (John Abraham) (who is a passionate follower of Gandhi) and fells in love with him. However their love is not meant to embody into some more material form. One of the most lovable characters in the film is devoted and dutiful widow Shakuntala (Rishma Malik) who wonders why the voice of heart sounds differently that the one of the Holy Scriptures.
"Water" is a beautiful movie with wonderful scenes and photography and the soundtrack is also amazing. The story is set in the ancient Varanasi and the widow ashram seems to be located by the river Ganges. "Water" is full of symbolism and of image details of India in 1938. It has been nominated to Oscar and has earned many other awards, also "Water" was very negatively accepted by the Hindu extremists in India and some political parties also. It's a movie which leaves something heavy on ones chest but can be called as a must watch as an example of neglected human rights. I'd rate it 4 stars because although I admit it's a very good movie I didn't completely like the lens through which the subject was depicted. It was rather shocking.
I first became fascinated with India a little over a year ago, and I found this film to be nothing short of shocking, exposing a part of Hindu culture I knew nothing about. I knew that widows had to give up their own lives in the funeral pyres of their dead husbands many centuries ago, but I had no idea that widows still gave up the majority of their lives here in the modern day. It is heartening to discover that Gandhi opposed this traditional practice. This great man was about much more than peaceful opposition to British colonialists and the elimination of the caste system - and widows were basically an anonymous cast unto themselves, separated and shunned by society. It's especially tragic to see a young and vibrant life essentially snuffed out by this practice - and it's doubly tragic that so many of these women did not question it, as they had been brought up to believe they deserved to be punished for not dying when their husbands died. It's even more especially tragic when such widows included little girls.
Chuyia (Sarala) is one such girl, widowed at seven years old. She accepts the ritualistic shaving of her head to indicate her widowhood, but she is far too young to understand why her parents abandoned her, leaving her in the care of a group of widows forced to live outside of normal society for the rest of their lives. Initially rebelling against her new position in life, she finds only one kind soul, a beautiful young lady named Kalyani (Lisa Ray). Kalyani lives somewhat apart from her fellow widows; she has a dog (which is forbidden) and she also still has long hair - but only because the dominant widow forces her into prostitution. Kalyani soon meets a young man named Narayan (John Abraham), a modern thinker and follower of Gandhi. They fall in love, and Narayan (to his mother's horror) asks her to marry him. That sets even more dramatic events in motion, leading up to a conclusion that will more than likely have you in tears.
As you may have guessed, this is a pretty depressing film, with a number of very uncomfortable, heart-breaking scenes. Your heart just goes out to so many of these widows, from the outrageously young, such as Chuyia, to the very old (such as Auntie, who has spent the better part of a century dreaming about the sweets she has been unable to taste since the time of her own childhood wedding). Amidst so much hopelessness, however, there is a modicum of hope embodied in one very religious woman (Seema Biswas) who begins to question the values she has always believed in - and in the end there is also Gandhi, who has returned to his native land and just been released from prison by the British (Water is set in 1938).
I really wish I could convey to you the raw power and emotion of this extraordinary film. The story is woven together in a masterly way, evoking almost infinite meaning from so many small incidents and events, and on a surprisingly large number of issues. The cinematography and sparsely effective musical score simply soar, and the performances of the entire cast could not be more impressive. I don't know if I've ever seen a film express so much meaning so effectively. Water is just a magnificent cinematic achievement.
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