Every now and then a movie comes along that is powerful, heartbreaking, and uplifting all at once. Water, which examines the plight of widows in 1930s India, is such a film.
When her husband dies, eight-year-old Chuyia (Sarala) is forced to live out her life in a temple for Hindu widows. She and fourteen other women live in poverty and under the watch of a cruel headmistress. Because she only a child, Chuyia does not understand her situation. She throws tempers tantrums, cries for her mother, and causes problems for the other widows.
Chuyia forms a strong relationship with Kalyani (Lisa Ray), a young widow, who works as a prostitute to provide money for the temple. Kalyani serves as a much needed mother figure for young Chuyia.
Director Deepa Mehta further examines the lives of these women with the arrival of Narayan (John Abraham), a follower of Ghandi. Like Ghandi, he believes that widows should not be forced into a life of poverty but instead they should be allowed to remarry. Narayan’s presence only complicates the widows’ lives, when he and Kalyani fall in love.
Water is a fascinating picture that resonates. With the prominent themes of culture, religion, love, adolescence, and womanhood, it is wonderfully effective and beautiful film. Most importantly, it is a must-see.
Updated October 11, 2010