Set in India, in 1938, Deepa Mehta uncovers the true lives of abandoned widows, who become social pariahs, due to religious oppression.
Chuiya (Sarala Kariyawasam) is an unknowing child bride. She’s married by the time she’s a mere eight years old, so the husband can take ownership of her before anyone else does. He dies, and Chuiya becomes a widow. Her long hair is shaved, and her coloured garments wash out to white.
In ancient Hindu scriptures a widow is to remain single after her husband has died, her soul is halved, and her value becomes next to none. Widows are banished to an ashram to live in confinement where they seldom get to enjoy the true fruits of life.
As the young girl enters an ashram, she soon changes the dire lives of the women who are imprisoned within its restricting walls. She frees a woman yearning for love, feeds a woman her last meal and shows humanity to a woman who fears God.
Mehta tells the stories India doesn’t want to share, but Canada gives her the platform to. While filming, fundamentalists protested against the plotline. However, her honesty must not be seen as an attack against India. Rather, an ongoing fight for Indian women who suffer oppression.
director DEEPA MEHTA
director of photography GILES NUTTGENS
cast SEEMA BISWAS, LISA RAY, JOHN ABRAHAM, WAHEEDA REHMAN and SARALA KARIYAWASAM
words PRIYESH PATEL
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