Deepa Mehta’s brave exploration of India’s storied past continues in this lush, perfectly pitched tale of a young Hindu girl whose life is suddenly changed by the traditions of her religion. Set in the twilight of colonial India in the 1930’s during Mahatma Gandhi’s rise to power, the powerful film tells the story of an 8-year-old child bride named Chuyia whose husband suddenly passes away. Sent to a decrepit home (ashram) on the River Ganges where Hindu widows must live in penitence, Chuyia’s feisty presence deeply affects the lives of the other residents. Mehta’s third film in her “elemental trilogy” following the acclaimed Fire and Earth, the highly controversial WATER had its production shut down in India in 2000 following violent protests and riots by extremist groups and death threats to the director. It took nearly five years to revamp the production in Sri Lanka under an assumed name and strict secrecy, but this soul-stirring masterwork could not be silenced.
Canada, 2005, In Hindi with English subtitles, 114 min, Rated PG-13, Directed by Deepa Mehta