Monday, January 14, 2008


Any movie with a topic like this is bound to be disturbing. It's just a given. I knew I was going to sit through Deepa Mehta's portrayal of a widows' colony in 1938 India and want to throw things at my tv screen. I knew I was going to get so deeply invested in the characters that a knot would form in the pit of my stomach, making me want to stop watching, yet keeping me glued to the screen at the very same time.

Water was all that and then some. Heartbreaking, yes, but also very engrossing. It's the type of film I won't soon forget, both because of the eye-opening message and the compelling way the story was told. I've seen other movies depict oppression or inhumane treatment, with nothing but tragedy after tragedy occurring to the bitter end. Those movies left me feeling as if the characters would have been better off if I'd never tuned in, since the minute I started watching things went from bad to worse.

I'm not saying these films don't have a right to be this way--most of the time they are based on history or cruel realities in our world that don't need to be sugarcoated. But there is another alternative, and Deepa Mehta found it in Water. In this film, the characters did experience hardships one after another, but Mehta made the wise choice of giving us a glimmer of hope at the end, right when we need it the most. The burst of love by two of the main characters for Chuyia's well being in the final scene sealed the movie as being more than just another heart sinker.

Perhaps it was because she reminded me of my own daughter, but Sarala's performance as Chuyia was my favorite by far. From the opening scene I wanted to swoop in and carry this child away from her devastating life.

Lisa Ray turns out an exquisite performance as Kalyani, but John Abraham could have emoted more as Narayan. Two glaring examples of the latter (***that contain spoilers***)were 1)John's poor display of what was supposed to be grief in the scene by the river after Kalyani's death and 2)the blank expression on John's face when Chuyia is handed to him on Gandhi's train at the end. The bright note to this was that John's character was extremely likable and, of course, hopelessly dreamy. And I am happy to say that in the more recent Salaam-E-Ishq, he appears to have improved somewhat.

There were also many relevant references to Gandhi in Water. After recently watching the Benjamin Kingsley movie and reading a book on Gandhi's life, I'm struck once again on the impact this man made on India. He used the simple concept of love to tackle some of the world's most controversial issues. Because of the effects his teachings had on his followers, he reshaped the thoughts of many. Would a man like John Abraham's Narayan have taken the stance he did on the treatment of widows if not influenced by a man like Gandhi?

Because of Water's subject, I expected to have all of these reactions. I did not, however, expect it to be such a well done film, with deeply developed characters and an ending that shows the difference a little bit of love can make. This film will stick with me for a very long time. Earth and Fire are next.

Text (c) 2008 Nida Nazir Bitten By Bollywood


yves February 26, 2008 at 5:40 AM  

Hi Nida,
Skimming through your blog, I remember with nostalgia how some of my first impressions were so strong... Devdas, Dil Chahta hai, DDLJ, and here Water... Yes, don't expect much from John abraham, but on the other hand, I'm told he's sometimes good (though I've never seen him in, let's say, the more demanding type of Bollywood movies)
I'll be back!

shashi singh June 18, 2008 at 4:20 AM  

This is nice blog what ever i seen earlier

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