- 1 hr 54 min
Water is a beautiful and powerful film set in 1938 India, directed by Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta. The film tells the story of a group of widows living together in an ashram in Varanasi, a city on the banks of the Ganges River, where the ancient Hindu tradition of putting widows away to live out their lives in penury is still practiced. The film follows the character of Chuyia, an eight-year-old girl who has been widowed and forced to live in the ashram with the other widows. Chuyia is played beautifully by Canadian actress Sarala Kariyawasam, and her innocence and playfulness provide a powerful contrast to the oppressive atmosphere of the ashram. Despite the best efforts of the ashram's leader Madhumati (played by Seema Biswas) to keep the widows in line and prevent them from rebelling against their oppressive situation, Chuyia's presence sets in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of all the widows who reside there. As the story unfolds, we meet a number of other key characters: Shakuntala (played by Seema Biswas), a beautiful and intelligent widow who has been living in the ashram for 20 years; Kalyani (played by Lisa Ray), a young and beautiful widow who attracts the attention of Narayan (played by John Abraham), a wealthy and educated man who is a reformer and political activist; and Narayan's mentor, Ghandi Baba (played by Waheeda Rehman), an elderly woman who has dedicated her life to social justice. The central conflict of the film revolves around the relationship between Kalyani and Narayan. Narayan falls in love with Kalyani, but their relationship is forbidden by the strict rules of the ashram. Narayan is determined to help Kalyani escape, but he meets resistance from the other widows and from the conservative elements of society who want to maintain the traditional system of putting widows away from society. Alongside this central conflict, the film explores a number of other themes related to gender, patriarchy, and the struggle for social justice in India. Mehta draws on her own experiences growing up as a woman in India to create a powerful and nuanced portrait of the lives of widows in early 20th-century India. The film is visually stunning, with breathtaking shots of the Ganges River and the ancient city of Varanasi. The costumes and sets are meticulously crafted to convey a sense of the period and to evoke the atmosphere of the ashram. The acting in Water is superb, with strong performances from all of the main actors. Lisa Ray, in particular, delivers a powerful and emotionally charged performance as Kalyani, and Seema Biswas is excellent as the tough and complex Madhumati. Overall, Water is a beautiful and affecting film that tells a compelling story while also highlighting important social issues. The film's themes and messages are still relevant today, and its message of hope and the possibility for change strikes a chord with audiences around the world.