Thursday, March 22, 2007
water, it is said. is the elixir of life. our vedic seers have extolled the magical qualities of water and its ability to purify the body and mind.when i read that deepa mehta's third element-titled film 'water' was nominated for the oscar, i was very proud of her achievement and keenly awaited its release in mumbai.i expected a groundbreaking film.one that would exhilarate me and cast a magical spell by the sheer power of the film's theme and some extraordinary acting and direction. what a disappointment! how could it ever be nominated for the oscar,i thought.
excepting for performances from seema biswas of 'bandit queen' notoriety and the fresh,young and talented srilankan eightyears young childactor sarla,almost everything about the movie(save rehman's musical score) was wrong. when your film centres around the plight of widows in benares,you cannot have a srilankan background and ambience.it makes it very unrealistic.whatever may have been the compulsions,deepa mehta failed to make the setting look realistic. and john abraham,a gandhi ideologist and lisa ray struggling to speak hindi just did not fit into their roles. actually,the film would have collapsed but for seema biswas and the captivating youngster sarla who has oodles of talent.
admittedly,the theme of the movie is strong and compelling.the renunciation of the world by the unfortunate widows who have nothing else other than the widows' home to fall back on. even a child widow has to go through hell! deepa mehta failed to convert an unusual and poignant theme into an unique film both for the indian and foreign audience.
the latest addition to their clan in a widows' home is chuiya(sarala).she has the gumption to tease and taunt the home's fat head madhumati(manorama) and wins the hearts of all the inmates.in particular, shakuntala( seema biswas) and kalyani(lisa ray).and of course an old widow who pines for sweets and particularly laddoos.chuiya fulfils her dying wish by using the little money she has.narayan,a london-returned lawyer falls in love with kalyani but his mother(waheeda rehman) totally disapproves of marriage to a widow and narayan later realises that kalyani has been prostituted by madhumati to narayan's father(gerson da cunha). kalyani walks into the waters of 'gangamai' and shakuntala takes it on herself to save chuiya from the clutches of hell. even sarla had to spend a night with one of madhumati's customers;the father of the anglicised friend of narayan.you litereally cry when the innocent sarala tells her customer "main aapke ke saath khelne ke liye aayee hoon".
deepa mehta couldn't resist the temptation of jumping into the gandhi bandwagon and there was absolutely no need for the gandhi angle in the film.a review on this film which i read commented that seema biswas made a huge 'splash' with 'water'. without underestimating her performance,i would say that sarla dived into the depths of acting with her scintillating performance."water', on the whole, failed to leave a lasting impression. neither did it provide any elixir nor did it cast any magic on the viewers.