Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2007, Water, by the internationally acclaimed director Deepa Mehta, offers the final part of her stunning trilogy (Fire, 1996; Earth, 1998). Filming for Water was to begin in Varanasi, India in 2000, but the production was halted by riots led by Hindu nationalist groups who demolished the set and threatened Mehta in reaction to the film's controversial subject.

Water tells the story of eight-year-old Chuyia who is not only married, she is now a widow.

In 1930s India, widows are consigned to live their entire lives in isolated charity homes, rejected by the general public as polluted, and forbidden to marry again. Chuyia is sent to live out the rest of her life in one of these institutions. There she meets Kalyani, a beautiful young widow who breaks the rules by falling in love with an educated young man who, in reciprocating her affections, is prepared to overturn tradition. Unfortunately, the queen bee of the home has been covertly pimping Kalyani, her most attractive resident, to wealthy local men: When Kalyani leaves, she must replace her source of income. But Ghandi's politics are sweeping the nation. People are questioning religious interpretations that undermine social progress and the rights of women. Even little Chuyia will be caught up in the wind of change.

This beautiful and moving film ends on a note of hope, but there are deep waters to wade through before getting to that point.

Claire Bergin
LONDON - 6 July 2007 - 246 words

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