Story of the film is set in the backdrop of pre-independence era. Child marriages were prevalent at that time. Girls below 10 years were married off to older men who were above sixty. Most of the times, small girls become widows due to older husband’s death. There is an Ashram that accommodates widows. Madhumati (Manorama) is the head of the Ashram. She earns the maintenance money by sending beautiful widows for prostitution. Kalyani (Lisa Ray) is one such widow. Narayan (John Abraham) is an youngster in the same town. He falls in love with Kalyani and comes forward to marry her. The rest of the story is all about what happened next.
Sarala who acted as 8 year old girl steals the show. She is very cute and earns the sympathy and appreciation with fine performance. Lisa Ray proves herself as superb actress in the role of widow. Johan Abraham is good. Seema Biswas is excellent as widow who takes care of little girl.
Story - screenplay - direction: Story of the film is very good and deals with the most disturbing subject. Direction of the film is realistic and sensible. Screenplay is good. Deepa Mehta touches your heart in many of the scenes. She questioned the child marriages and widow system by making little girl ask innocent questions like can’t men be widowers. The hijda character and her conversations with the Ashram’s head are nicely etched. The elder widow’s wish to eat sweet is very poetically expressed. The good references and innocent remarks on Gandhiji are well written and all these references make sense as the climax culminates into the appearance of Gandhiji in the film.
Other departments: Cinematography of the film is extraordinary with crystal clear quality and pleasing colors. Music by AR Rehman is good. Set work and costumes are excellent and captures the pre-independence mood. Dialogues are well written.
Analysis: ‘Water’ is a realistic film that projects the pathetic exploitation of Hindu widows in the pre-independence era because it is written in Manu Sasthram around 2000 years ago. The film starts with a tragedy and ends with several tragedies. This film will disturb you and make you feel uncomfortable with it’s reality. The narration of the film is pathetically slow. The 8-year old girl Sarala is fabulous. Water is not a film for entertainment seekers. Water should be watched by all art film aficionados.
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