As part of my Theology course (South Asian religions and cultures), I got an opportunity to watch a film called “Water’ in the class. I was my first experience to watch a movie in the classroom. The story of the film is based on the life of widows in the colonial period. During the colonial period, there were child marriages prevailed in India, and the widows were seen as untouchables in the society. Widows in that period was send to a rescue home, where they had to lead a life by worshipping God and without any interaction with the world outside.
In this film, Chuyia an eight-year-old girl widow was send to the rescue home. The story of the film is build up on this girl. The rescue home consists of several other aged widows. Other main characters in this story are Madhumati, Shakuntala, Kalyani, Narayan, and Gulabi. Madhumati is an old lady who rules the ashram. Gulabi is a pimp who helps Madhumati to prostitute Kalyani. Kalyani is a young widow in the ashram who is forced for prostitution in order to support the ashram financially.
Chuiya become friend with Kalyani very soon and she act as a mediator between Kalyani and Narayan. Narayan is a youngster who follows Ghanhiji and Ghandhism. Narayan loves Kalyani and he wants her to be his wife. Kalyani agrees to go with Narayan to lead a life with him, but later when Kalyani come to know that Narayans’father is one of her customer, she refuses to go with Narayan. Kalyani commit suicide in her grief. In the meantime, Gulabi takes Chuiya for prostitution and when Shakuntala hear about this she ran to find out Chuiya.
Chuiya is brutally raped and deeply traumatized, when Shakuntala find out here. Shakuntala wants to save the life of Chuiya from Gulabi and Madhumati, when she hears preach by Mahatma Ghandhiji, she thinks to send Chuiya as a follower of Ghandhiji. Narayan takes Chuiya with him to save her life and use her to fight for the freedom of India. The film gave me an overall idea about the lifestyle of Hindu widows in the colonial period. It was a wonderful experience to watch a film as part of the course.