Water: Foreign-Oscar Nominee Finally Plays in India

The Oscar-nominated Canadian movie Water, about the harsh treatment of Indian widows, will finally be seen in India, seven years after angry Hindu nationalists stormed the sets, forcing its Indian-born director to stop shooting.

“Water” opened in the U.S. last April after it won accolades at international film festivals. This time around the film’s promoters say they did not foresee any trouble. Distributor Sanjay Bhutiani said the movie, which is directed by Canadian-based Deepa Mehta, would open across India in March, more than a year after its overseas release.

Protests by Hindu nationalists in 2000, who alleged the movie was anti-Hindu, had forced Mehta to suspend shooting the film in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi. She resumed shooting the film in Sri Lanka four years later.

“The film is not negative and it is based in the 1930s,” said Bhutiani, business director of B.R. Films, the company that will distribute the film in India. “There is nothing controversial in the film and I don’t see the trouble last time repeating itself.”

The movie about the harsh treatment of Indian widows is likely to be released in India on March 9. Mehta along with actors John Abraham and Lisa Ray will attend the film’s Indian release.

The movie, shot mainly in the Hindi language, has been nominated for the best foreign language Academy Award. It centers on a home widows were sent to by their family where they live in social exile, and depicts their desire to escape stigma.

Under ancient Hindu tradition, widows were considered bad luck and sometimes even blamed for their husbands’ death. Remarriage of widows was frowned upon – although there were no such social barriers for widowers.

Bhutiani attributed the late release in India to a delay in finalizing distribution contracts.
“We need a month to market the movie and launch the music since music is a big part of any film release in India,” he said.