Friday, October 20, 2006

Water - by Deepa Metha -Reviewed (6.5 /10)

A widow should be long suffering until death, self-restrained and chaste.
A virtuous wife who remains chaste when her husband has died goes to heaven.
A woman who is unfaithful to her husband is reborn in the womb of a jackal.

The laws of Manu
Chapter 5 verse 156-161
(Sacred Hindu texts)

11/3 Eye
Did I expect more from this movie?

Whatever I am going to write about this movie ill end this review by saying this is a really good movie...and a unique one, in the sense it is just a movie. But as the Director claims, this movie is all about the widows in India, then id rate this movie a bit more down. Still it is a good one, can recommend it to anyone or buy a DVD to your movie collection… its worth the price and space.

Let me start with something terrible about this movie.
Casting was a real problem. John Abraham sucked! I didn’t see a single expression in his face….may be because it was just his second film or the director wanted that character to be less emotional even on some really tragic moments. Lisa Ray was average. First of all she does not look a bit like an Indian, mostly European. But I really don’t want to blame those actors for this. When u watch the movie u can see that Deepa is attempting to avoid all emotional bursts till the climax of this movie. The romantic scenes were unimpressive too.

Art Direction had a major flaw. Everyone that watched this movie misses India in it…its just all Sri Lanka. The ‘extra actors’ doesn’t have an Indian look either. I think there should have being a more deliberate attempt to make the environment look Indian as it was shot in Sri Lanka. Unless attempted the ‘over cleanliness’ of the environment was disgusting for me. Every nook and corner shown in this movie was clean as heaven. I wanted realism. Having said that, they did a good job in setting up that house where all the widows live.

Script and Direction. Not the best. But good. This is my first Deepa movie. I haven’t seen ‘fire’ or ‘Earth’, the prior installments of this trilogy. So not familiar with the way of her story telling. I can’t dissect and show the flaws in it, I don’t feel it is perfect. I would have appreciated ‘Indian culture bashing’ on this movie if she tried to discuss or just give a clue of how customs like ‘Child marriages’ came to existence than just mixing child marriages and the widow sufferings and refer it to the ancient holy texts of Hindu’s and Indian mythology, which I feel was a below average attempt. As far as I know child marriage came into existence in 12th century during the Afghan’s invasion of India and has nothing to do with ‘Hinduthuva’. I may be wrong.

The love affair between ‘Narayan’ (John Abraham) and ‘Kalyani’ (Lisa Ray) was poorly worked out. They didn’t have any strong desire or passion towards each other and it seemed more like an average crush.
I just didn’t feel that desire on screen!! But it is so great of Deepa to avoid Bollywood melodramas though out the movie, no lip singing and running around tress, change of costume and hair style on every other scene(ofcourse I am not against it coz they are mere entertainment stuff). May be she consciously did that seeing her international audience.

The movie ends with the message that a majority of 34 million widows in India are forced to live in social, economic and cultural deprivation according the books of ‘Manu’ from 2000 years back!! Deepa..I seriously doubt that. I do agree these rare incidents happen in the rural India and 80% of India is ‘rural’, but not to an extend that’s described in your footer, I hope!

The references to the current affairs in late 30’s, where the story is happening was interesting. The background score with the song ‘vishnava jan tho….’ played after the scenes were that 8 year old girl was raped really made be shiver.
To make ‘rain’ a part of story is always a difficult task. I’ve seen masters in this, like Late Mr. Padmarajan. Deepa did it very well.

Towards the end of the movie Narayan is running away from his home and his problems. Till that moment he is portrayed as a nationalist and a Pro-Gandhian. Its an irony that he tries to escape from the issues without doing anything for the widows around him as he always quotes Gandhi and his principals on most things he do. It could be a problem with the fine tuning of that character or is Deepa really trying to say something about Gandhian principles? Sameway, Narayan’s father who is portrayed as a liberal thinker by other characters, uses widows for sexual desires and rapes an 8 year old girl. Quiet possible, but took some time for me to digest that.

Rahman’s music did a remarkable job in this movie. As I’ve said before, sound is the backbone of video…and music is the backbone of movies. The songs in rain were outstanding. The background score of movie was pretty average. Some notes resembled the OST from Titanic…which again affected the overall movie experience.

There were some really stunning performances in this movie. Seema Biswas and yester-year actress Manorama excel, it was just fine, class acting. Also watch out for Raghubir Yadav as the eunuch and the use of dark humor to depict some very serious issues. Seema’s character is very strong but sometimes she has to show that she is vulnerable to pain caused by her sufferings, her character also changes as the story progresses, which she did extremely well. A mention should also go to the stunning child artist Sarala who played the leading role ‘chuyia’…she was so marvelous that only because of her this movie has some positive energy and life. The character was well made.

Before I end this ‘review’ I should write my take on the problems caused by the so called ‘fundamentalists’ which led to stop the filming for 4 years and was later done is Sri Lanka under a fake title.
So what did Deepa expect? Majority of Indians in rural areas and on lower economic class are uneducated…id use the words ‘not free-thinkers’. Their major source of knowledge and guidance is religion, the sacred books and their religious and political leaders. In a country where religion and patriotism plays a big (bad) role in daily life…when you make a movie with two Hindu woman, named after Hindu Goddesses and portray them as lesbians in front of a religious political party in its all time low ratings and waiting to do what ever it takes to create a vote do u expect to happen? When you make a movie about the suffering of widows in pre Gandhian era and u distort the facts for the storyline (still u made a good ‘movie’)…what do u expect to happen? I do support creative freedom and applause the great effort in making this good movie, but ive a feeling that u challenged those people with your stories and I don’t think you will be able to shoot a movie with so much fire in it in India even after 20-25 years from now. The argument by RSS politicians that there is no ‘lesbianism’ in Hinduthuva really made a lot of people laugh. Id say the story line and plot of her films can be considered sacred when compared to the TV soaps that are aired directly to every home which is of wife swapping, dirty mind games, torturing woman, having conspiracies…..etc. It should be banned first friends. Id also ask those people to respect creative freedom, and if its unbearable protest in a non-violent way rather than setting a million dollar set to fire and giving death threat to movie makes.

“Water’ became the official entry for Canada for the Oscars with the help of certain new laws implemented from the current year and its competing 2 other Indian movies. Ive seen two of them yet and will probably see the third ‘Lage raho munnabhai’ today! On comparing ‘Rang de basanthi’ to ‘Water’ I feel ‘Water’ looses the by a negligible margin. RDB had a vibrant theme, professional actors and was technically well worked. It was also better by the message it conveyed and the realism in plots. May be watching it over and over could nullify that difference.

And finally the scoreboard.

Technical 5.5/10
Art 4.5/10
Cinematography 6/10
Direction 6.5/10
Intelligence -6/10
Replay value = yes, once in 2 years or less
Entertainment value- 2/10
need a sequel? =nope
overall – 6.5/10.
For - Everyone over the age of 13/movie thinktanks.

This movie has got the longest review ever in this blog. I hope ive done a reasonably good job than the previous review attempts.
Ive tried to avoid blind criticism here and the fact is that u can’t criticize a dumb movie. They should be something good in it to talk about. This is one good movie that you can discuss and debate on its point of view on some very serious issues. Goodjob Deepa.

10/18/2006 1:39:22 AM

1 comment:

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