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Time for 'Water' to flow freely in India
Making "Water" was sailing against the tide for critically acclaimed filmmaker Deepa Mehta, who is overjoyed as her Oscar nominated movie is set to hit Indian theatres in March.
"I came here this morning and leaving for Canada tomorrow. The release of 'Water' is so special for me that I have come especially for it. I am thrilled that the film will be seen by Indian audiences and I thank B.R. films to make it possible," said Mehta at a press conference here Thursday.
Seema Biswas and John Abraham, who play important roles in the film, were also present there along with Ravi Chopra, whose production and distribution company is releasing the film.
About other two actors, Lisa Ray and child artiste Sarla, Mehta said: "I wish Lisa and Sarala were here. Sarala is in school right now and Lisa is in Hollywood."
"Seema and I still can't believe that Deepa is sitting here now. She's come all the way from Toronto. The best support all of us have is that Deepa is with us here today," said Abraham who requested Chopra to watch the movie while he was shooting for "Baabul".
Chopra was so impressed with the movie that he instantly decided to distribute the film.
Mehta's first attempts to make the film in Varanasi in 1999 sparked protests by Hindu radicals and she had to shelve the project. She took it up four years later and filmed in Sri Lanka with major changes in the cast - with Shabana Azmi making way for Biswas and Nandita Das being replaced by Lisa.
"Water" focuses on the relationship between a widow seeking to escape stifling social restrictions and a man from a lower caste who is a follower of Mahatma Gandhi.
"I didn't feel any anger when the film was shut down. What happened with 'Water' was unfortunate. I felt bewilderment and a sense of loss. When I re-launched 'Water' it was without any bewilderment. I don't think India was responsible for what happened with 'Water'. It was a particular political group who raised objection. But I never for a second felt that the film would be abandoned."
"Water" completes Mehta's trilogy of "Fire" (1996) and "Earth" (1998). And all of them were controversial.
"I chose such subjects because I am a storyteller and I feel that filmmaking is a difficult process. When I spend two years making a film, I feel I should make something meaningful. 'Water' is one of the most important films of my career."
Abraham, who underwent rigorous training for the film, learned to play flute and Sanskrit language for his role. The media got a glimpse of his hard work when he recited scriptures in Sanskrit from 'Meghdoot' on Mehta's behest.
When asked what inspired her to make a film on widows, Mehta said: "When I was shooting for Krishanmurthy 11 years ago in Varanasi I got an opportunity to meet these widows for the first time. When I saw the 'ashrams' there I was deeply moved and decided that one day I will make a film on these widows. So, it is the widows of Varanasi who inspired me to make the film."