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Water (PG-13)

Release Date: April 28th, 2006 (The Paris Theater and Angelika Film Center) by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
The Cast: Lisa Ray, Seema Biswas, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Waheeda Rehman, Raghubir Yadav, Vinay Pathak, Rishma Malik, John Abraham, Sarala, Manorama.
Directed by Deepa Mehta.
In Hindi with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: In 1938, Chuihya (Sarala) joins a Hindu ashram for widows where she befriends Kalyani (Ray), an older widow who falls in love with Narayan (Abraham).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Water opens with a quote from an ancient Hindu text which prohibits widows from having sexual intercourse and from re-marrying. When Chuihya loses her husband, she enters the ashram and follows a cute puppy around which brings her to its owner, Kalyani, played the beautiful and enchanting Lisa Ray. Soon, Kalyani meets a handsome man named Narayan, but a conflict arises when the head of the ashram, Madhumati (Manorama), finds out about they want to get married and secludes Kalyani up in a room. Now, Kalyani must fight against traditional values if she wants her love of Narayan to survive. Kalyani and Narayan’s romantic relationship does feel a bit contrived, but the chemistry is there thanks to the two talents actors. Writer/director Deepa Mehta makes it very easy for you to sympathize with Kalyani as she fights for her freedom in a society that refuses to adapt to modern values—those Ghandi. Even though in other places, widows were allowed to marry, this particular society simply follows the rules that benefit it. The breath-taking lush cinematography gives much of the film a picturesque look with plenty of vibrant colors and a variety of symbolic images of water. Moreover, the musical score is also quite beautiful and fitting.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The cruel, unfair ways that Hindu widows were treated in pre-Gandhi days can make anyone feel both angry and sad. After all, these women aren’t really responsible for their husbands’ death, so why should they be forced to live such a dreary life? On top of that, it’s uncomfortable to watch an 8-year-old girl such as Chuihya be a part of this society after losing her own husband—young marriage is also a hot topic. It’s always important to question anything that one feels is unjust in any way, shape or form—even if it has to do with traditional values. The emotionally-charged conclusion of Water will stay with you for a very long time.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Slightly contrived romance between Kalyani and Narayan.


IN A NUTSHELL: An emotionally-stirring and powerful film! A visual feast! Beautiful and haunting symbolic imagery!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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