I recently read this book “Water” by Bapsi sidhwa (a gift to me from my friend), a novel based on the movie script of the veteran director Deepa Mehta.
Set in 1938, the story follows the life of an eight year old widow Chuyia who was abandoned and discarded to the widows’ ashram after the death of her senile husband. In the ashram, Chuyia gets acquainted with many widows. The author creates pasts for all her widows and tries to project the way they were treated in that period through the eyes of this young girl.
Apart from the focus on the life of widows, the author also talks about various forbidden affairs, eunuchs, untouchables, Gandhian principles etc. Besides being a gripping story, the plot deals with a subject that of the oppressive hold tradition has on women, in this case, religious tradition. It tells of oppression and the constraints that govern even a girl-child’s life in a patriarchal society.
Water concludes with the flicker of hope. As Gandhi's train passes through the village, the prospect of rescue from punishing Hindu traditions seems conceivable. Modern India has journeyed far since 1938. In Water, the author honors the awful fate of those once left behind.
I really wonder why the hell was the shooting of this film on location in Varanasi was stopped. Just because violence broke out, including an attempted suicide by a Shiv Sena activist, the government issued an order to stop the movie. Does projecting the life of widows, who are ill-treated by the society is condemnable? Why is that when Deepa Mehta attempts to portray something about women, it is apposed? When the Government of India allows all the cheap movies why is it a controversy when it comes to “Fire” or “Water”? Why is it that these kind of movies been used as a prop to galvanize anti-muslim and anti-christian religious fervor?
Though I couldn’t watch the movie, I am bit satisfied that I could read this book at least. I am also hunting for the book “Cracking India” by Bapsi Sidhwa, the book based on which the movie “Earth” was taken.