Monday, August 28, 2006

edinburgh film festival 8/26

Deepa Mehta / Canada / 2005 / 118 min
Lisa Ray, Seema Biswas, John Abraham, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Waheeda Rehman, Raghuvir Yadav, Vinay Pathak, Rishma Malik, Sarala


Conceived amid outrage, its maker's life threatened. Now able to be seen at last.

Set in the 1930s, in the Indian holy city of Varanasi, Deepa Mehta's long-awaited new film - the third in her 'elemental trilogy', following Fire (1996) and Earth (1998) - examines the plight of a group of widows forced into poverty at a temple ... in particular, the beautiful, headstrong Kalyani, unwilling to accept the harsh restrictions imposed by Indian society on widows, and her relationship with a man from a lower caste, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. A tale of forbidden romance, set against the backdrop of the nation's struggle for independence from British colonial rule, the film's birth proved an unusually difficult one, with shooting interrupted for four years (!) following massive protests from Hindu fundamentalist groups. Now completed at last, the scale of Mehta's achievement is apparent: this powerful, sensual drama is a major work by any standard.

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