Amidst the all pervading jubilant mood around water making it to the Oscars final, my DVD wallah is busy selling more and more pirated copies. However, a vague memory of political right’s anger against the “misrepresentation” of the great Indian culture held me from even daring to think of the possibility of getting a pirated copy. Also a semi-idealist stance that a producer-filmmaker have a right to earn from the film they produce discouraged me to watch the film before it gets released in theatres, though my idealism lasted as long as I failed to manage a copy.
I got confused about what comes first, respect for the law of the land or an enthusiast’s impatience or a producer’s right to earn from the film. And as usual the benefit of doubt went in favor of the enthusiast.
Water recreates an entire era from the fringes. A widow ashram, quite unaware of the waves of changes that are sweeping across the British India. Bogged down in the gradually rotting sense of respect for the tradition. The sacred river Ganga separates this world from the other, where Gandhian thoughts have just arrived (read John Abraham). Gulabo, the eunuch pimp tries her best to update the ashram’s didi on Gandhian revolution that has caught imagination of the world outside but not to mention from behind the window. The two worlds separated by iron bars. Gulabo keeps bringing news of Gandhi and his weird ideas and Madhumati didi pokes fun at them.
The beautiful Lisa Ray, the only widow with long hair (Sprite effect-joking, to be cut later), meets the Gandhian John Abraham. John recites Kalidas’s Meghdootam to her in Sanskrit. They fall in love.
Water is cinematographed beautifully and it has haunting background score. The film is graced with a rare lyrical quality that creates an epical feel.
Water begins beautifully. Silently it introduces us to little chirpy eight years old Chuiya whose husband is terminally ill. He dies and Chuiya is informed – do you remember getting married, now you’re a widow.
Chuiya is left at a widow ashram in Benaras to spend rest of her life. Since then the only wish that keeps her going is to go back home. Little actress Sarala renders a brilliant performance as Chuiya.
While this part of the word is caught up with daily routine, Gandhi is bringing in a revolution elsewhere. His revolutionary ideas of equality and downtrodden being Harijan, the people of the God, is poked fun at by ashram didi.
Deepa Mehta builds quite a cinematic climax. History in making is to pass by this otherwise sleepy town. And it will stop there for only five minutes. Gandhi is received by a deluge of people. Chuiya succeeds to catch the Gandhian train. Words hang in the air “give her to Gandhi”
Film has brilliant performances. Right from little Sarala to Raghuveer yadav and Manorama. Yes we could have expected more from John and Lisa both.
Water is a brilliant film that deserves all the awards. It has a unique distinction of a film on Indian theme not even shot in India. It speaks volumes of the political transformation underway.