Water | Chicago Reader

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I haven't seen Fire (1996) or Earth (1998), the first two installments of Deepa Mehta's “elemental trilogy.” But this heartbreaking 2005 feature about the plight of Hindu widows is a potent feminist protest—all the more so because some of the laws depicted are still in force. (In fact production had to be suspended after the sets were damaged by arson.) Set in the 1930s near the banks of the Ganges, it focuses on an eight-year-old bride (Sarala) who's taken to an ashram after her husband dies, then shifts to an older girl (Lisa Ray) who falls for a young follower of Gandhi. The agitprop aspects may be simplistic, but the story's realization is effective. In Hindi with subtitles. 114 min.

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