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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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'

Review of Deepa Mehta's ''Water'' Durable Link to this BLOG
I saw Deepa Mehta's Water. This is an important movie, exposing the suffering of child-widows in India.

Fox Searchlight/www.kamat.com

Widows Chuyia and Shakuntala ponder at Life

Set in circa 1938, it is about the suffering of Hindu widows, considered inauspicious and condemned to lead a life of severe penance (see: Miseries of a Widow). Graphic descriptions of an ashram and the daily activities are provided.

Unnecessary Controversy

The movie ran into controversies in India during its making because Hindu nationalists thought it represented Hindus and India in poor light. They burned the sets and caused violence against the crew. If the fundamentalists are so concerned about India's image, they should do something to eliminate the prejudice against widows in India. Protesting against this movie or Deepa Mehta is not worth it, because neither is "Water" a masterpiece, nor it is a documentary.

Lack of Authenticity

The movie, trying to depict organized cultural prejudice against widows lacks attention to detail, and hence is disappointing. The rave reviews the movie has received is solely due to the movie's sex appeal that the movie is about the "Status of Indian Women" made by an "Indian woman" (Mehta is based out of Toronto, but was born in India). It lacks the depth, drama, and honesty of similar movies made in India -- like the award winning Phaniyamma (1983).

Some quick visual anomalies I noticed are:

  • Rampant mixing of South (Dravida) and North Indian customs. Seventy years ago, the differences were much more pronounced.
  • Fake Hindi accents (especially by main characters Chuyia and Kalyani, they are pretty bad)
  • The movie is set in 1938, but they show Narayan hanging photograph of Gandhi taken in 1945.

The cinematography (by Giles Nuttgens) is quite stunning and provides a lesson in the use of lights and shades. I think the fundamentalists should have let Mehta do her thing, and we'd have been treated to spectacles of Varanasi akin to Kashi depicted by Satyajit Ray in Aparajito. Instead we get coconut trees on the banks of Ganga river (they had to film in Sri Lanka, I am told).

Actress Sarala as the young widow is very cute. Shakuntula (Seema Biswas)gives a very convincing performance.

I don't get the title of the movie. The title is absurd to the contents of the movie.

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(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Sunday, August 27, 2006
Last Modified: 8/31/2006 8:01:03 AM
Tags: phaniyamma, widows

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