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'Water’ is a campaigner for the cause of women, says Seema Biswas.

By R. Manishaa, Bollywood Trade News Network
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Deepa MehtaAmong the many Deepa Mehta admirers, who called for a celebration soon after hearing of WATER being short-listed in the race to the Oscars, is actress Seema Biswas, who has got a powerfull role in the film and bagged the Ginnie award from Canada a few months ago for her performance in the film. “We were aware that the film was destined to go places from the beginning but I was thrilled that it had made it to the final five in the Oscars. It will give a big boost to the commercial prospects of the film,” Biswas reveals.

Seema Biswas plays the role of a widow in the film, who after going through the travails of widowhood, starts living life on her own terms. “It is a very strong character of a lonely widow, who has undergone the same suffering and humiliation that her counterparts have gone through as child widows, and grows up into become a fighter for women’s cause. She joins the Mahatma Gandhi movement and helps the other child widows to start living life on their own terms,” she says.

Biswas was offered the role after she got introduced to Deepa Mehta at the trial show of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’. “That was when Deepa was busy confirming artistes for the initial shoot of the film that was to take place at Benares. However I could not take up the role at that time since I was committed to another film that was nearing completion. Later I learnt from my friend, Uma D’cunha that the film was being made once again and Mehta was scouting for talent for a similar role that she had offered me earlier,” she says. .

She remembers the 25-day shoot in SriLanka for the film as the most creative period of her life. “It was a great experience working with Deepa. We used to all have rehearsals for our roles but apart from that she would always come up with something new during the shot-taking which gave it a new dimension. It gave a new dimension to acting,” she says, adding that there was no element of fear whatsoever when they started shooting. “We were aware of the problems in the earlier shoot in Benares when we started the one month shoot in Srilanka but there was no tension whatsoever. The shooting took place in a very peaceful atmosphere. Besides, we had made up our minds that we would face the situation in the event of any unforeseen problem,” she recalls.

Biswas feels that there is no reason why the film should not be seen objectively in its portrayal of a system that prevailed at one point of time and still prevails at certain places in India. “If we can discuss the third world, violence, blasts and Saddam Hussein and a whole range of social issues, there is no reason why anyone should feel upset by the depiction of widows and their persecution in a certain period in India. There are certain places that I know of where the practice still persists. For instance, there is a practice that still prevails among Bengali women where they are abandoned and forced to live a life of solitude after they become widows. They are not even allowed to eat with the family and are considered doomed. The film is surely a campaigner of women’s cause in that respect,” she says.

View RISK Film Premier - Picture GalleryMeanwhile, Ravi Chopra has lined up a unique release strategy for the film in keeping with its new status. “I was always confident that WATER had the potential to go places in the world and would make it to the final five. In fact it was this gut feeling about the film that led me to acquire its rights overnight when I happened to go for an unscheduled screening of the film with John who was shooting for my film. I saw the film and made the decision there and then,” he recalls.

Chopra is now planning to release the film with a larger number of prints besides chalking out a different pre-release campaign. “I have just begun to work out on the details of the campaign in keeping with the February end release of the film,” he says. He has no apprehensions that the film will have to counter any opposition post its release. “First of all it is a period film that depicts the course of events that happened in the 40s. Besides the issue has been handled very sensitively by Deepa Mehta. In fact, it is a very beautifully made film that should be seen by cinema goers,” she says.


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