Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Get 12 issues from just £25
Must-Have Movie Collectibles
Bid on some classic memorabilia
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Seema Biswas
Lisa Ray
John Abraham
Sarala.
Directors
Deepa Mehta.
Screenwriters
Anurag Kashyap
Deepa Mehta.
Running Time
117 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Blind
4 Star Empire Rating
A Second Chance
2 Star Empire Rating
Dreamcatcher
4 Star Empire Rating
High Tide
3 Star Empire Rating
My Name Is Salt
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Still Alice
5 Star Empire Rating
Les Miserables
5 Star Empire Rating
Duke Of Burgundy, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Whiplash
5 Star Empire Rating
EMPIRE ESSAY: When Harry Met Sally
5 Star Empire Rating

Water
Death threats and Oscar nominations for this gorgeous Indian drama


submit to reddit


Plot
India, 1938. A devout Hindu (Biswas) is forced to rethink her blind adherence to ancient laws after a prostituted beauty residing in her widow’s ashram (Ray) agrees to marry a liberal Brahmin (Abraham), whose respected father is one of her clients.


Review
Water

Having confronted sexual bigotry in Fire (1996) and religious sectarianism in Earth (1998), Deepa Mehta set out to complete her ‘elements‘ trilogy with Water back in 2000. She was temporarily forced to abandon the project after groups linked to the Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party succeeded in destroying the sets in Uttar Pradesh, convinced that they were preventing an insult to Indian womanhood. But, in 2005, Mehta resumed production in Sri Lanka, with Lisa Ray and Seema Biswas replacing Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi as the leads. The relocation also led to the casting of Sarala, who excels as the eight year-old whose arrival at an ashram in the holy city of Varanasi provokes a rebellion against the sacred Manu doctrine that a widow should either join her husband on his funeral pyre, marry his younger brother or subject herself to a life of isolation and penury.
 
But this is not just a diatribe against a discriminatory custom that continues to exist (albeit in a less drastic form). Mehta uses her story to discuss the wider contemporary problem of religions being used by extremists as a means of controlling the minds of believers and compelling them to uphold prejudices and practices that owe little to spirituality. The concluding encounter with Gandhi, in which Biswas is moved by his desire for people to see Truth as God rather than God as Truth, reaffirms this exceedingly courageous stance, which typifies the Toronto-based Mehta’s uncompromising attitude to her homeland.
 
However, this is less rigorously a work of Parallel Cinema than its predecessors, as Mehta has opted for a melodramatic narrative that would not be out of place in a conventional Bollywood picture and included a couple of A. R. Rahman songs to give the soundtrack a broader appeal. Moreover, she allows the romance between Ray and Abraham to deflect attention from Sarala’s piteous plight, as well as Biswas’ growing disillusion with Manorma, the ashram matron who pimps Ray in return for dope from gossiping eunuch Raghuvir Yadav.


Verdict
A laudably committed piece of socio-political criticism, but also a rather disappointing conclusion to a triptych that had previously succeeded in shaking the subcontinent.


Reviewed by David Parkinson

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's New Spectre Issue Covers
First look at Bond 24 in Empire's April issue

Vote For The Jameson Empire Awards 2015!
Your mission is clear...

The Oscars: Who Won What?
The winners, the losers, the dresses, the suits...

The Empire Podcast Oscars 2015 Special
The team's take on the 87th Academy Awards

Sleeping Beauties: The Story Behind 12 Of Cinema's Unlikeliest Hits
They came, they saw, they surprisingly conquered

Writer / Director Dan Gilroy Reveals 8 Nightcrawler Secrets
On Jake Gyllenhaal's hand-slicing mirror smash and more...

Robert Downey Jr. On Age Of Ultron
Tomorrow: Mark Ruffalo talks Bruce Banner...

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)