Film Review: Water

Film: Water

Director: Deepa Mehta

Producer: David Hamilton

Cast: Waheeda Rehman, Manorama, Seema Biswas, John Abraham, Lisa Ray, Raghuvir Yadav, baby Sarala

Rating: 4.5/5

By the banks of the river Ganges, against a politically stirred backdrop (Gandhian movement), Water sheds light on the plight of widows in the Indian society.


Married at a very early age, Chuiya (Sarala) is widowed at the age of eight. She is brought to the ashram that is meant to house Hindu widows such as herself. Expected to repent her husband’s death during her lifetime stay at the ashram, she finds it tough to be at ease, alien to all of it.


It is with Kalyani (Lisa Ray) that little Chuiya is at ease and shares a level of comfort. The widows in the ashram manage to sustain life by begging and indulging in prostitution. In the course of the film, the story moves on to the life of Kalyani, who might be considered to be the Ashrams main mean of sustenance. Enter Narayan (John Abraham), who Kalyani sees as her knight in shining armour. Shocking revelations lead to dire consequences, but existence dances on.


The film should at no point be considered as an assault towards any culture; it merely questions the very same exalted virtues held by us. It questions the right of existence, the right to equality and moreover the right to freedom. The film also talks of the hippocratic nature we hold, manipulating culture and religion to suit our preferences. See it not as a sermon; see it as a solemn urge to alert us of the hypocrisy that still prevails.


The film constantly makes the viewer aware of the period it was set against, with constant references to Mahatma Gandhi and his actions during that time. This political weave into the story, not only adds to the movie experience but additionally also cautions us that from time immemorial nothing much has changed.


With vivid colours and great cinematography, the film is both visually and aesthetically appealing. Well framed and lit scenes bring out the depth of each character visually. Though there are sudden shots of brightness; in the larger picture it just does not matter. The scene where Seema Biswas is seen running on the railway platform with Chuiya in her hand, pleading Gandhi to take her away is splendid, as it may be seen as the bind between the political and cultural narratives of the film. The striking compositions rendered by A R Rehman provide the film with a sense of impact (considering the fact that music induces a sense of connection to a character and film).


Child artist Sarala is a natural and with great acting talent, she brings her character to life. Biswas leaves no stone unturned in portraying her character sans any flaws. An actor of great caliber, she manages to challenge herself each time and win too. Ray delivers her role with confidence, but does not create magic. The performance of John Abraham may be considered as one of his best yet.


The determining factor to the box office success will lie in the hands of the multiplex goers. The film can be expected to do an average performance at the box office. Given the fact that the film has seen a delayed release and pirated versions of the film have been flooding the market for almost a year now, Water will find it hard to hit it big on the box office chart. The film’s viewers will primarily consist of urban audiences, especially those in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Calcutta.


Water quenches the thirst of innocence one keeps looking in modern day cinema. It is a story told with great innocence and enacted by each character with the same innocence and with complete conviction.


It is indeed a great and praiseworthy effort by B.R. Films to undertake the release of the film in India. It is however sad that films like these find it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. What’s more, even if they do, it is for a stipulated period of time, till someone raises an issue and the film is pulled off the theatre.


There is a choice, you chose to watch the film or you don’t. The choice is also about your ignorance and conceit. Choose wisely!


A note to the director:


Thank you for this film. It might not take much for eyes to well up, but it surely takes great cinema to set the tears flowing.

A standing ovation!

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Sanjay Ram

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