117 minutes – Drama
Language: Hindi, English
Festival release date: September 9, 2005 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Release date: November 4, 2005
DVD release date: March 7, 2006
Production company: David Hamilton Productions
Canadian distributor: Mongrel Media
U.S. Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Set in 1938 against the backdrop of Mahatma Gandhi’s rise to power in pre-independent India, eight-year-old child-bride Chuyia hears of her husband’s death. Her father, following Hindu custom, exiles her to an ashram where widows are expected to live out their lives in isolation and poverty, which given her age is going to be a long, long time. Although a widow, Chuyia is still a child, and the fiery young girl stirs up the unfortunate lives of the older widows who befriend her. They include 35-year-old Shakuntala (Seema Biswas), an 80-year-old whose days are waning. But it is 20-year-old Kalyani, the ashram’s breadwinner, played by Toronto-born Lisa Ray, who is most moved to action. Although they all begin to question their faith and their future, it is ultimately Kalyani who breaks with the past and falls for a young upper-class Gandhian idealist played by John Abraham. Water is the third in Deepa Mehta’s elements trilogy that includes the 1996 film Fire and the 1998’s Earth. Production originally began on January 30, 2000, in Varanasi, India, but was halted following various disruptions. Hindu chauvinist organizations, which had attempted to stop screenings of Fire and Earth when these films were released, denounced Water and, without having read the script, declared it “anti-Hindu” and “anti-India.” Shelving the project for a few years, Deepa Mehta eventually re-cast the film and the filming of Water was completed in 2004 in Sri Lanka.
Also see: Deepa Mehta Completes Water.