Winter 2006 Main series
Sunday, February 5, 2006 at 4:00pm
Sunday, February 5, 2006 at 7:00pm
Monday, February 6, 2006 at 7:00pm
Rated PG ·
After the renowned Fire and Earth, veteran Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta returns with Water, the final installment in her highly acclaimed trilogy about women in India and the Opening Night Gala at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival. Mehta (The Republic of Love) clearly put her heart and soul into Water, her most lush, accomplished and mature film to date. Set amidst the social turbulence of India in the thirties, Water deals with the plight of a group of widows in the ancient Hindu holy city of Varanasi.
Kalyani (Lisa Ray, Bollywood/Hollywood) is one of several widows living in an ashram on the banks of the sacred Ganges River who befriend a young girl who arrives there one day. According to Hindu tradition, widows cannot remarry and are considered “lower” than other women; consequently, Kalyani and the others take solace in the ashram and, through each other, find a sense of normalcy and family. When the young newcomer joins this warm matriarchy the women find themselves invigorated, but none more so than the sad Kalyani, who takes a particular shine to the girl.
Meanwhile, increasing media reports tell of a Western Indian named Gandhi who may be leading an independence movement. During this exciting time of optimism and unrest, a renewed Kalyani pours affection on everyone around her, including the new man in town, Narayana (John Abraham, Kaal). But as Gandhi’s movement approaches Varanasi, the widows are forced to make some difficult choices in order to keep their quiet ashram refuge afloat.
Water was shot on location in Varanasi, where it was met with public outrage; many people were threatened by what they believed was Mehta’s intention to depict the widows’ oppression at the hands of local men. On the first day of filming, 2,000 protesters stormed the ghats and destroyed the main film set, burning and throwing it into the Ganges. Effigies of Mehta were burned, threats to her life were issued and production was called off for nearly a year. In the end, Mehta persevered to complete the film in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Clearly a cathartic film to finish, Mehta has said she can now retire. Rich with metaphor and symbolism, Water is truly great cinema.