Saturday, February 17, 2007
"I fell in love with Deepa after watching Water," admitted Ravi Chopra at a press meet to launch the music of Water at a Mumbai hotel yesterday. Chopra's banner B R Films is distributing Water in India as it gears up for a release on March 9. Deepa Mehta returned the compliment by stating "It was fortunate that Ravi saw the film and decided to take the risk. I would also like to say that he has good taste."
The reason why Mehta uses the word 'risk' is because Water had faced stiff opposition from certain fundamentalist forces in year 2000 when it was being filmed in Varanasi. Why? Set in year 1938, the film talks about widow remarriage and gender inequalities present in the Indian society at that time. The film was later filmed in Sri Lanka. It has been nominated amongst the top five in race for Oscar in a Foreign Language Film for year 2007. And Steven Spielberg happens to consider it "one of the finest films he has ever seen." Novelist Salman Rushdie on his part calls it "A magnificent film...unforgettably touching the heart."
With Parzania in recent times facing resistance in Gujarat, can there be opposition to Water as well? "I know the controversy. I am a responsible Indian and I don't think it will hurt anyone," says Ravi Chopra. Mehta added, "Protests are an important aspect of democracy. I feel you make a film because you feel so strongly about it."
John Abraham sat quietly for most part of the press conference and let his director bask in glory. His Narayan is a total departure from the 'cool dude' persona he has mostly been associated with. Gandhi spectacles and the dhoti look is something that one doesn't associate with Abraham. But considering the applause he has been reaping for his performance, he seems to have pulled it off well. He plans to wear an Achkan for the big Oscar night on February 25. "It was great working with a woman director. I started my career with Jism with Pooja. I think director is the hero of the film," he said. He also rated Jism as his favourite film.
Ravi Chopra is of the opinion, that if Water wins the Oscar, then it will affect the film's prospects in India in a positive way. He also stressed that he has not associated with a film like Water for merely "commercial" reasons. Considering films like Water cater to the intellectual sections of the society, multiplexes, according to Chopra will be the mainstay for Water as the gentry there has been known to patronize thought provoking films.
Deepa Mehta was all praise for Rang De Basanti, India's entry to the Oscars (Water was the official entry of Canada) for its youthful spirit, but when asked if films like Water glorified the proverbial superstitions and age old customs associated with India, she visibly looked irritated and preferred to remain mum. When asked, out of the three films Fire, Earth and Water (part of her trilogy), which was the most difficult to make, Mehta said, "Earth was the most difficult to make as it was shot on an epic scale since we had to capture the tragedy of partition. Making of Water was the easiest and the most peaceful shoot of my career." She was also all praise for veteran actress Manorama who returned to silver screen after eighteen years.
Mehta also appreciated lead actress Lisa Ray. "Lisa has the quality to be Kalyani for she has that vulnerability. Models need not be bad actors," she said. And what are the changes incorporated in the film from how it had been conceived in year 2000? "It is different. I am different. Cast is different. Script is the same. It is far more cinematic."
Water opened the Toronto Film Festival in the year 2005 and it had its first screening in India at the Films Division Auditorium at New Delhi in January 2006. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was one of the special few to have watched and lauded the film then. Let's see how the film is received by the whole country as it releases this March.
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