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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Review: Water

Water (drama)
Cast: Lisa Ray, Seema Biswas, John Abraham
Direction: Deepa Mehta
It took almost a year to get here, but fortunately, it is here. Yes, Water does always manage to find its own level and flow, despite the impediments piled in its way. And yes, it was a worthy send to the Oscars, although apna Bollywood filmmakers had been murmuring about its purana story and its outdated feel.
Set against the 1940s, Water is by-now the familiar plea for widow re-marriage, albeit told in a style that's the polar opposite of Baabul . It's completely low key, restrained, almost elegant in grief and pathos.
You have no widows wailing at indignities heaped upon them by the patriarchal scriptures. On the contrary, they go about their state of nothingness with a silence and a dignity that seems to ring straight from their spartan souls.
Only the five-year-old widow is allowed to loose her cool and stomp around in childish anger at the monstrosity of the situation. Specially when the injustices are heaped on her friend Kalyani (Lisa Ray). It's a heart-rending performance by the Sri Lankan cherub who sails paper boats in a swollen river with the same felicity with which she bears the burden of her unnatural status where she is denied even a laddoo or a jalebi.
Of course, we aren't talking about the seamier side of widow ashram abuse as yet. The two performances that stand out are the child widow Chuhiya's and her self-appointed guardian Seema Biswas who moves from blind resignation to seething rebellion, laying aside years of religious indoctrination.
Both Lisa and John are a shade too plastic as the clandestine lovers who dream of breaking traditional taboos as Gandhism sweeps the land. Watch it, it's a worthy follow-up of Fire .

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