Not-so-still ‘Water’

If you can stomach one more film about the oppression, struggle and power disparity that many women face, “Water,” Deepa Mehta’s 2005 film about an 8-year-old Hindu girl, already widowed from an arranged marriage and who suddenly finds herself outcast and living in an ashram of other widows, is a must-see film.  

The rich cinematography and the desperate inner lives of women who endure their fate with docile acceptance, wrapped in religious faith, will make you mourn, cringe and, at times, smile at spirits that cannot be snuffed with oppression.  

Mehta shows, with quiet reverence, the Catch 22 that so many women find themselves in: The struggle for survival in an inequitable world that is ruled by financial considerations, but uses social pressures, religion and stigma to keep an oppressive thumb on pressure points. And lest you think men are the sole purveyors of inequality, consider that women, girls like Mehta’s girl-widow, Chuyia, learn those rules from their women elders. As Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post put it: “Water” is something pretty rare in the world of movies: an artistic muckraker.”

More food for thought: Some 30 million Indian women live with the stigma “widow,” which still can force them into an outcast life. Imagine having no identity or value as a human being, save what a man might bestow.  

Mehta’s “Water” trailer below. Article links about the film and India’s widows follow.

-Christy

Washington Post article about the film here.

New America Media article about the filmmaker here.

International Herald Tribune article about India’s widows here.

Women’s e-News article about India’s widows here.

 

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