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Water (2005)—IndianWater (2005)—Indian

Set in 1938 India and Ghandi's rise to power, Water opens when Chuyia's father awakens her and asks, "My child, do you remember getting married?" She says no, and her father responds, "Your husband is dead; you are a widow now." Chuyia is eight years old, and as one of India's 34 million widows her head is shaved and she is banished for life to a home where Hindu widows live in penitence. They are a source of ritual impurity for anyone who touches them or is even darkened by their shadow. But this does not stop the authoritarian and obese Didi who runs the home from pimping. Director-writer Deepha Mehta (who received death threats for her work and had to move filming to Sri Lanka) uses Chuyia's plight as a window onto the larger degradation of widows by crafting a major sub-plot when another widow, improbably gorgeous Kalyani, falls in love with the liberal-minded Brahmin and follower of Ghandi Narayan. To divulge the twists and turns that their relationship take would spoil unexpected suspense. The marginalization of widows in Hindu society, remarks Narayan, is all about "one less mouth to feed, four less saris, and a free corner in the house. It's disguised as religion, but it's all about money." In Hindi with English subtitles.

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