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Water (A Deepa Mehta Film)

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Water (A Deepa Mehta Film) + The Namesake + Monsoon Wedding
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Product Details

  • Actors: Lisa Ray, Seema Biswas, Rishma Malik, Waheeda Rehman, Kulbhushan Kharbanda
  • Directors: Deepa Mehta
  • Format: NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #756,884 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Set in 1938 Colonial India, against Mahatma Gandhi's rise to power, the story begins when eight-year-old Chuyia is widowed and sent to a home where Hindu widows must live in penitence. Chuyia's feisty presence affects the lives of the other residents, including a young widow, who falls for a Gandhian idealist. "Deepa Mehta's Water is a magnificent film. The ensemble acting of the women in the widows' hostel is exceptional: intimate, painful, wounded, jaundiced, corrupted, tender, tough. The fluid lyricism of the camera provides an unsettling contrast to the arid difficulties of the characters' lives. The film has serious, challenging things to say about the crushing of women by atrophied religious and social dogmas, but, to its great credit, it tells its story from inside its characters, rounding out the human drama of their lives, and unforgettably touching the heart."

Customer Reviews

A beautiful film -- deeply moving and very disturbing.
Narayan promises to take Kalyani away and marry her, but the ancient Indian faith is very firm about widows remarrying.
A Customer
It's really good & it will make you think long after its end.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

172 of 176 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 5, 2006
Format: DVD
"Water" is the third film in writer/director Deepa Mehta's elemental trilogy, following "Fire" and "Earth". It explores the plight of widows in traditional Hindu culture, where women are condemned to a grim, rudimentary existence after their husbands die. Driven by characters as much as by its cause, this is not a bleak film. On the contrary, "Water" is breathtakingly beautiful. In India in 1938, young Chuyia (Sarala) is widowed at the age of 8. By religious law, when a man dies, his wife may either be cremated with him, marry his brother, or live the life of an ascetic -chaste, poor, and pious. Chuyia's head is shaved, her jewelry removed, and she is sent to live in an ashram with other widows of all ages. She is befriended by a pretty widow named Kalyani (Lisa Ray), watched over by the devout and generous Shakuntula (Seema Biswas), and often at odds with the ashram's callous matriarch Madhumati (Manorama), who pays the rent by prostituting Kalyani. A handsome law student with progressive politics, Narayan (John Abraham), is smitten by Kalyani. But it is sinful for widows to remarry, and Kalyani is a prostitute besides.

The story of making "Water" is a drama in itself. Filming in India in 2000 was shut down by violent protests by religious fundamentalists, who believed the film was anti-Hindu. Deepa Mehta's view is that a misinterpretation of religious texts has perpetuated the dreadful state of widows in Indian culture, which is actually the result of economics. If a widow is sent away upon the death of her husband, her own family does not have to pay to feed or house her, and her would-be inheritance remains in her husband's family. In any case, there were riots, Deepa Mehta was burned in effigy, and the film's sets were thrown into the river.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By thornhillatthemovies.com VINE VOICE on June 6, 2006
When I was in film school, I remember a professor showing an Indian film called "Panther Panchali". Despite the terrible print, I could see director Satyajit Ray was an artist. "Panchali" is a beautiful film about a poor Indian family living through the monsoon season. I then went on to discover some of his other films. A couple of years ago, Merchant Ivory hosted a retrospective of Ray's films and these restored prints are available on DVD. You are depriving yourself if you do not watch these films.

As I watched "Water", the new film from director Deepa Mehta, I was constantly reminded of Ray's films. The composition, pacing, subject matter and acting style are all the same.

Chuyia (Ronica Sajnani Sarala), a seven year old girl, finds she has become a widow; her arranged husband has died leaving her adrift in a society that favors men. Religious law dictates if she lives a chaste life she will join her husband in heaven. Of course, she doesn't know or understand any of this when her family takes her to a home, to live with other widows. She soon meets the matriarch of the house, Sadananda (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), a fat woman who eats the most food, Shakuntala (Seema Biswas), a bitter woman who shows some compassion to Chuyia and Kalyani (Lisa Ray), a young woman who is allowed to grow her hair out and meet `clients' to help support the house. Soon, Chuyia meets Narayana (John Abraham), a bachelor from a rich family who is instantly attracted to Kalyani. As their relationship grows, there are murmurs of Gandhi leading the Indian people to independence from Britain.

Deepa Mehta has crafted a beautiful film depicting a sad reality in India's history.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful By MICHAEL ACUNA on May 9, 2006
Format: DVD
"Water" is a beautiful, tragic, sad, emotionally available film about the deplorable situation in India in regards to its many millions of widows: who are segregated into Ashrams, forced to beg in the street, some into prostitution to support the Ashram and are viewed as if not Untouchable...then unavailable for remarriage.

"Water" focuses on the beautiful very young, as in 9 years old, Chuyia (Sarala), Kalayani (Lisa Ray), both widows and Narayana (John Abraham): a young Ghandhi follower in love with Kalayani.

The time is 1938, India is in social, political and religious upheaval but director Deepa Mehta uses this as only a backdrop for her very personal and tragic story. At times, though her agenda is without a doubt important, Mehta's approach is too overwrought, too heavy-handed. But her film is so gorgeous and her mise en scene so much about the cleansing qualities of color: turquoises, lemon yellows, scarlet reds, lime greens...that most of this didactic quality can be forgiven.

Water can cleanse, Water can heal, Water brings forth life and renewal and "Water" is full of these images but it is also about Hope for the future and Redemption through the restorative power of Love.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 30, 2006
Format: DVD
A film of jaw-jopping beauty and deeply held poetical lyricism, Deepa Mehta's spectacular Water - the final installment of her devastatingly beautiful Indian trilogy - is a film of overwhelming tragedy, a gorgeous homage to the country of her birth and a real testament to the resilience of her people's spirit.

Steeping her story in Indian spirituality, Mehta sets her atmospheric film in 1938 Colonial India during Gandhi's rise to power. Times are changing for this country that for so long now has only known British rule. New laws are being passed and the young - particularly the men - are gradually opening to the new ways and becoming more liberal minded.

Change, however, seems far from the young Chuyia (Sarala) when her father drops her at an ashram for widows. A child bride and married for economic reasons, her much older husband unexpectedly died. Now considered a financial burden by her family she is sent to a house where she is forced to live a life of rigorous penitence and is never allowed to remarry.

Here she meets the Madame of the house Madhumati (Manorma), a hugely fat and authoritarian woman in her mid-70s, who runs the house like a nazi, lauding it over all the other women. Of course, Chuyia has a hard time adjusting to this new life of singing religious hymns every day, wearing only white and begging on the streets for money.

People avoid them like the plague; many Hindus believe that if they bump into a widow, they will be polluted and must do rituals of purification. Chuyia doesn't really understand any of this, but she has a sharp tongue and her rebellious instincts upset the other widows who reside in this decrepit two-story dwelling built around a court and overlooking the river, most probably the Ganges.
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