Water is the third movie in the trilogy by Deepa Mehta. The first two movies were Fire and Earth. Fire was very controversial upon its release as it portrayed an intimate relationship between two females who were driven close to each other because of lack of love and support from their husbands. Earth was based on the best selling novel The Ice Candy Man by Bapsi Sidhwa, based on the partition of India and Pakistan. This novel is actually one of my all time favorite novel.
However, Water, the third in the trilogy was quite a depressing movie to watch, but equally informative and enlightening. Set in Varannasi, Indian in the 1800s, Water is about a world where traditional custom and rituals prevail all aspects of society. We follow the story of a young girl who is not even ten, whose husband has just been killed. So this young girl is rendered a widow and is sent to a small town where all widows are kept. These widows become an outcast of society. They are looked down at, their head is shaved and they wear white clothes to make them easily identifiable. Through the eyes of this young girl, we venture into this whole arena where we see how widows were treated. The Hindu scriptures are solidly believed in, and the treatment meted out to the widows are based upon the scriptures.
However, because this young girl is naive and innocent, she asks all these questions, and challenges the authorities. She befriends another beautiful widow (Lisa Ray)living in the same place. A young man (John Abraham) who is passing through this town sees this beautiful widow and they both embark on a passionate affair with disastrous consequences, for a widow cannot remarry.
Water is at the most a depressing movie, if only to see how widows were treated in Indian. A large part of the social commentary through this movie was that our perception as a society needs to change towards widows. Even today in 2006, in the sub continent, people think badly of widows, single mothers or divorcees. Although the newer generation may have moved on from this way of thinking, the older generation still seem top dwell in this kind of thinking.
I enjoyed Water mainly because it was a huge learning experience for me, and I love learning about other cultures and their beliefs. If anything, this movie made me so gald I was not a widow living in India in the 1800s.