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The perversions in the film 'Water'
The perversions in the film 'Water'

Prepared and distributed by Sankskar Bharati in public interest

The perversions in the film 'Water'
Prepared and distributed by Sankskar Bharati in public interest

(Note: This is a long article.  But for those concerned with the subject, it is necessary reading.)

A lot of rumours are afloat about the contents of the script of Deepa Mehta's film 'Water'. People are making their own guesses about it because Deepa Mehta has not shown the authorised 'script' of the Film to anybody. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has too not tried to remove the cover which wraps this script. All this has conspired to deepen the doubts about the script, in the common man's mind resulting in the people's agitation in Varanasi against the shooting of the film. This 'synopsis', therefore, contains a factual narration of the script referencing the authorised version.

The Film centres around a Widow House situated in Varanasi in which Madhumati, Shakuntala, Bindu, Janaki, Suhasini, Litawati and some other windows live. The lady of the house is Madhumati. There is a male servant in the House, Hariharan by name who is under the total control of Madhumati. This dormitory is a Widows' Home only in name. In reality it is a den for prostitution where the widows either themselves indulge in prostitution or are dependent on the earnings from prostitution. Madhumati behaves like a 'Madam' of any other prostitution den and bosses over other widows. She always remains intoxicated with ganja and provides the young widows for prostitution to people through Hariharan. She scolds other widows of the Home calling them 'Randi' (harlot).

The Scenes

An eight year old girl named Chuhiya is taken tot he cremation ground where her husband's dead body lies on the funeral pyre. The bangles worn by Chuhiya are broken by striking them against the funeral pyre. On one side of the funeral pyre the body of her husband is consigned to fire and on the other side, the head of the weeping and confused girl child is shaved off.

Chuhiya's father takes her to the Widow House at Tulsi Ghat and leaves her there. Chuhiya at first cries and talks about going back to her home, but gradually she adapts to the house as her own home.

The owner of the house, Madhumati scolds Suhasini. "You prostitute haven't fed my Mittu (the parrot) as yet". Then she asks Chuhiya in a sweet voice not to cry - "Please don't cry. Our Shastras (Holy Books) say a wife is her husband's half body when he is alive; and when our husbands die, we become their half-corpses".(P,9)

One day Chuhiya escapes from the House of Widows. "At the threshold she's assaulted by the sound and fury of Banaras. The alleyways teeming with men, women, sadhus, children, handcarts, rickshwas and the ever-present cows. Tentatively, she starts walking down the street, Jostled and pushed, she reaches the open end of the alley. Here, the steep steps of the ghats lead to the River Ganges. The river looks immense and powerful. Chuhiya watches the throng of pilgrims on the ghats, her eyes constantly searching for her father. Nudged from behind, she turns to find herself looking directly into the eyes of a huge white bull. Terrified, she runs all the way back to the House. (P.14)

Chuhiya and Janaki (another widow) get thick with each other, Janaki calls Chuhiya on the roof top. "With its temples, minarets and mosques, lies Banaras spread out like an over-dressed dowager". (P 15)

"Chuhiya : We could bathe him (the Kaalu dog) in the Ganges, couldn't we?
Janaki : (smiling) and get rid of his fleas and sins all at the same time?" (P 16)

"Janaki and Chuhiya at the foot of the Ganges, vigorously soaping Kaalu, Kaalu is not having a good time. A woman bather, immersed in her prayers and Holy Water, gives them a distinctly disapproving look. Janaki feels ashamed. (p 19)

Kaalu runs away getting rid of Chuhiya and Janaki. Both of them run after him to catch him. A woman grasps Janaki's arm and looks at her. Woman: Child! Have you gone mad? Running about like an unmarried girl. Then suddenly she pulls her hand away from Janaki's arm at if she was stung by it.
Woman: Chhee! Chhee! You've polluted me! Now I have to bathe again (p 20)

Chuhiya, running like a little torpedo, bumps head long into Narayan. Both of them look for Janaki. Narayan was attracted towards Janaki as soon as he saw her. Janaki also feels an attraction towards him. Narayan's mother Bhagwati tells him that she had chosen Namrata to marry him. She is just 'thirteen' years old. (p 21)

Madhumati is lying along the wall and smoking ganja. Handing over the ganja chilam to Hariharan for a smoke she tells him about her dead husband. Madhumati: He suddenly fell upon me puffing like a steam engine and breathing like bellows - just like a dead body.

Hariharan is taking Janaki for prostitution in a boat in the darkness of night.
Hariharan: so tell me, do you get Shiva's blessing before each trip?
Janaki: we only do what He wants us to; (adding with great certainty). It's all written (p 33)

Narayan is talking to his friend Ravindra;
Narayan: Do you think that it is endless piety that makes Banaras so special?
Ravindra: That, and the cholera epidemics, the corrupt priests, and do not forget the half cremated dead bodies floating in Holy Ganges. very special indeed. (P 35-36)

Chuhiya becomes more friendly with Shakuntala. When Shakuntala comes out of the Ganges after filling up water in the pot, the priest shouts "Careful! Don't let your shadow touch the bride". (p 44)

Shakuntala, Suhasini and Chuhiya beg for alms sitting at the stairs leading to the temple. Someone.

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