While filming, Mehta received many death threats for her work on this controversial film focused on the concepts of misogyny and ostracism of female widows in India. Set in 1938 India under British rule, it begins with young seven year old Chuyia (Sarala Kariyawasam) being awoken and told by her father that her arranged husband has just died, making her a widow. She is a victim of the previously common practice of child marriage. Then she is whisked off to an ashram in rural Varanasi where many other widows also live. Widows in the Hindu India have a lower position in society. The fourteen widows in the ashram are expected to live out the rest of their lives in poverty, hardship, and worshiping of Gods. They live in a tiny two-floor house, living there to repent bad karma and to relieve their families of financial and emotional hardships.
The only reason why I didn't give the movie a 10/10 is because of the multiple scenes that dragged on for a little bit too long and it was hard for me to understand some parts. For example, it was hard to understand why she demanded the boat to turn around and why she drowned herself in the river was unclear to me because I couldn't keep track of the men outside of the ashram, besides Narayan, that later turned out to be her clients.
Overall, this movie has a beautiful and moving plot that uncovers many truths in the Hindu society for Indian women. I had known that in the Hindu religion, women that have husbands passed away, were burned on occasion, but I would have never known about the mental and emotional pain felt by these excluded women. For example, Narayan's mother's reaction to his announcement of them getting married, the rude street vendor who wanted to get rid of Chuyia, Madhumati who locks Kalyani away in a room so that she can't get remarried, and the deplorable men who exploited Kalyani and Chuyia. With Deepa Mehta's film, all these hardships have been intelligently brought to life for the thirty-four million widows in India since 2001 that are still living under social, economic, and cultural impoverishment engraved upon them two-thousand years ago by the Sacred Texts of Manu. She highlights characters Narayan, Kalyani, Shakuntala, and Chuyia in the film as people who speak out about these rules that bound widows. This is what makes them different from other people, they act on their consciousness.
'Water' shows the struggles that Chuyia go through and it shows all of her experiences. It sees poverty as a condition of life because the majority of the Indian population live in poverty and people just their lack of money. Women tend to not be important in the view of Indians, so the widows in this film are treated as if they have no useful lives, now that their husbands have passed away. Women are stuck living horrible lives just because their husband passed away, something that they had no control over. This shows one of the flaws in Indian culture, women and men are not treated as equal.
I thought that the movie Water was alright because I think it portrays Indian cultures quite well. However, I think that it didn't show any of the good things in India and it just focused on the bad things. I think that the movie did quite a good job showing how women are looked down upon in families but I think that it should show less of the bad parts of India and show some of the nicer parts.