Last night, I watched WATER, recommended in a discussion either here or in the discussion of Bollywood triggered by Liz Bevarly’s music post on the now-defunct Squawk Radio. Set in 1938, it is the story of a little girl who is widowed at the age of seven, and sent away to an ashram to live for the rest of her life, as is the custom. Chuihya’s head is shaved, she’s dressed in white, and she is sent away from her family to the grim environs of the ashram, where she meets three women who all influence her fate. One is the beautiful young Kalyani (Lisa Ray) who falls in love with Narayan (John Abraham), and their star-crossed tale is woven into the struggle for faith, the desire for happiness, and the excruciating tale of women condemned to a life of nothing after a husband dies.
Which makes it sound as if it would be a grim movie indeed. It is not. Water is lyrical and earthy, and highly romantic. It is also a visual feast, filmed with extraordinary attention to light and composition without ever being self-conscious or haughty.
It also raises my on-going and pleasurable debate with myself over wanting to visit India. So beautiful and so challenging and so poor and so rich, spiritual and severe, romantic and sexist and sensual and ignorant and wise. It is a swelter of ideas and possibilities; frightens and perplexes and intrigues. I’m afraid I will go and hate it. Maybe just as afraid that I won’t.
Beautiful film. Thanks to those who recommended it. On one site, it said the move is banned in India. Does anyone know if that is true?