Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Indian Film Favorites

On Sunday, I went to see Deepa Mehta's "Water" at the Angelika Film Center. The movie was beautiful,but very sad. It is set in India along the Ganges River, in the 1930s, on the eve of Indian independence. The movie begins with a young girl, Chuyia, probably no older than 7 years, who replies "no" when she is asked whether she remembers her wedding. The child is then told that her husband is dead, and that she is now a widow. Her father takes Chuyia to compound where widows go to live. The compound is filled with mostly older women, all clothed in white saris. Chuyia pleads with her father not to leave her, but he does.

In the compound, Chuyia befriends a young and beautiful widow, Kalyani, who lives in a small room with a small black puppy that she keeps in secret. Later we find out that one of the older widows prostitutes Kalyani out to rich men across the river. One day while Chuyia and Kalyani are out walking, they meet a young man, Narayan, who has just finished his law studies. Narayan is a progressive thinker and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. When they meet, Narayan and Kalyani are immediately attracted to one another, and Narayan starts trying to find a way to meet Kalyani again. I won't give anything else away, because I don't want to ruin the story.

According to the film, 34 million widows currently live in India, many in situations of deprivation and inequality, as depicted in the film.

Water is the third film in a trilogy that explores themes of gender, religion, and the movement for Indian Independence. The trilogy also includes "Fire" and "Earth." All of the films have been marked by controversy, mainly as a result of fundamentalist hindu protests against the films. I saw Fire, and thought that it was an incredible film. It's the story of a young girl in New Dehli who enters a loveless arranged marriage, but then forms a friendship with her sister-in-law. I have yet to see Earth, but it's in my Netflix Queue.

Since I'm on the subject of Indian movies, two others that I have seen and loved are "Monsoon Wedding" and "Bride and Prejudice." Monsoon Wedding explores serious themes, such as adultery, arranged marriages, love, class, and incest, against the backdrop of extravagant preparations for a wedding in North India. It's a story about a family and there love for their daughters, which is always a beautiful thing to see. Bride and Prejudice, as you can probably guess, is "Pride and Prejudice" Indian-style in the spirit of Bollywood. It's a fun, entertaining movie. Bride and Prejudice stars Aishwarya Rai, one of the most stunningly gorgeous women I've ever seen.

Go see them all. They're wonderful.


Gypsy said...

I'm going to put these on my Netflix queue. Also, a dear friend of mine has been living in India with her partner, so I'll suggest these to her, too.

wordnerd said...

Aishwarya Rai really is absolutely stunning isn't she? She is so beautiful I actually found it distracting during Bride and Prejudice!

Must see Deepa Mehta's trilogy...has been on my 'to see' list for awhile now....must put those films on my zip list (zip = netflix in canada....a total godsend!)

Have a good day!

Bean said...

She is a gorgeous woman. It is still crazy to me how many differences there are in the world today between women, men, finances, and traditions. WOW.

Tracy said...

I really liked both Monsoon Wedding and B&P. Thanks for the other recommendations as well. I saw the previews for "Water" the other day, and thought that it looked like a winner.