The Features of Deepa Mehta`s Films

The exact i have chosen is take from Deepa Mehta’s film. Water and i am will be analyzing water in the terms of historical context, social context and geographical context and then i will focus on how it uses symbols, cinematography, genre, editing, narrative structure, sound, mise-en-scene and pattern to convey meaning according to the filmmaker’s vision, intentions and her influences. Water is a set in the late 1930s India, in the time when women had no right and where treated so bad in their community, they were poor widows and they were still mourning the death of their husbands.

They did not own anything to themselves, they could not own a house or money and they were forced into poverty even when they were still mourning the death of their husbands. additionally , women were not supposed to be sexually abused or be ignored in the society. And it was considered historically, that women should be loved and be given enough attention they need.

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India at this time the women living in the modern india face many issues of discrimination, despite the progress made by the Indian feminist movement. There were also emerged on a trend of sex-selective abortion which is the practice of terminating a pregnancy based on upon the predicted sex of infant. The abortion of female is more than male because they value male children more than female children. India, focuses on the deprivations experienced by Hindu widows, still an issue today in a country with 33 million widows.

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When Mehta started making this movie in Benares, Hindu fundamentalists protested, claiming that the film was anti-Hindu. She was forced to shut down the production and start over a year later in Sri Lanka.

Textual Analysis:


The film was released on the 8th september 2005, In India the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act just got notified. It guaranteed all rural households 100 days of employment a year. The Manusmriti, an ancient Hindu text, says that in life a woman is half her husband and if he dies, she is half dead. A widow has three choices: she can live out the rest of her days in isolation and seclusion. Or she can throw herself on his funeral pyre and die with him; she can marry his brother, if one is available. If she chooses the latter, the ascetic path, she enters an ashram, shaves her head, wears white as a sign of mourning, and tries to atone for her husband’s death.

The sequences i have chosen to analyse begins with chuyia an adorable eight years old widow in a white robe running back to his mother because she doesn’t understand what has happened, while some mens in white clothes were also running with him to catch up with him. Thus the beginning was a little confusing and frighten, then later ends with chuyia in white rope with a devout hindu (shakuntala) that was blending some clay to rub on his head. This is a turning point and not only for plot, but also for the chyia’s character, as her being a notorious kid, troublesome kid. This is done in the extract mainly through non-diegetic sound, juxtaposition and cinematography. The beginning of the sequence marks the chuyia in white rope running away from some men in white clothes. As chuyia is running through the busy street, the camera cut to a shot of her mother blending some ingredient. A spirit of apprehension immediately overwhelms me, as i wonder what her mother wants to use the ingredients she is blending for.

The camera then cut the shot of the devout hindu (shakuntala) calling chuyia to come she in her front then she started rubbing the blended substance on her head. These two juxtaposing shots represents concept of what the young eight years old girl is facing Textual Analysis: Water basically like the hell put next to the little girl, so as to say that her relationship with the devout hindu (shakuntala) is strong. However, in the context of this film, chuyia gaining freedom and independence come from her strong relationship with the devout hindu (shakuntala). With the help of this scene it seems Deepa Mehta is criticizing the way the society judge women, as chuyia doesn’t remember her marriage which was arranged by her family all because of financial reason. The shot shows the divide between the devout hindu (shakuntala) and chuyia. Regarding the cinematography, Deepa Mehta stated in an interview that ‘’Water can flow or water can be stagnant.

She set the film in the 1930s but the people in the film live their lives as it was prescribed by a religious text more than 2,000 years old. Even today, people follow these texts, which is one reason why there continue to be millions of widows. Basically to her, the kind of stagnant water. I think is that the traditions shouldn’t be that rigid. They should flow like the replenishing kind of water.’’ this is what sets WATER apart from other movies at that period of time. Most of the films belonging to this genre have very intense cinematography, with some wide shots and dramatic close-ups.

Giles Nuttgens being the cinematographer of the film called WATER, Giles Nuttgens cinematographer is very much simpler and easy, yet very powerful and taking some full advantage of the actor’s abilities, by giving the film somewhat type of ‘’fairytale manner.’’ A very understanding that this is when we see chuyia entering the devout hindu woman’s hut with a lot of people chasing her and, breathing heavily not being sure what to do but just sit at the entrance of the hut’s door. The camera was on taking a medium shot of her breathing heavily where she sat down. The camera was tracking her as she was moving closer to the devout hindu.

Textual Analysis: Water woman when she called Chuyia, whis is a great contrast with Chuyia who is shown in the stable medium shot and is a very still and solid presence, calling Chuyia to move closer so she can rub the substance she just finished grinding on her head. (Fig. 1) Figure 1 – Chuyia trying to go meet the devout hundi woman As Chuyia stepped outside the hut after applying the substance on her head by the devout hindu woman, the camera slowly moves in on chuyia, from the medium shot to a close-up. Despite being across the compound from each other and they are physically far away from each other not until when chuyia was moving closer to the old woman seated on the floor, they are becoming emotionally close and , the more the shjt moves in, we see an increase in intensity of emotion on chuyia’ face. As she is able to show the combination of pity, sadness, anger, love, and confusion that chuyia is feeling and yet still trying to repress.

In this scene the simple cinematography plays a pivotal role, with the camera being close a little bit to chuyia and the old woman and later the camera being far away enough showing through a little Textual Analysis: Water space like a two poles attached to each other to create a hole and to give the actors some breathing room/space, focusing not only on chuyia’s face but we can also see her emotions emerging and we feel them with her. Figure 2- Chuyia stepped outside her hut to talk to the old woman Deepa Mehta’s way of telling us that Chuyia is taking charge of her life by talking to people and people telling her either by giving her some advice about her life or what she is doing that is not proper. The simple cinematography plays a pivotal role in this scene, with the camera moving close a little bit to chuyia and the old woman and later the camera being far away enough showing through a little space like a two poles attached to each other to create a hole and to give the actors some breathing space, and not Textual Analysis: Water only focusing on chuyia’s face but we can also see her emotions emerging and we feel them with her (figure 2). Figure 3- woman worshipping their gods The lighting in this sequences is very natural and ties in with the simplicity in the cinematography. As Chuyia was walking in the street then she heard some noise from an angel which she decided to peep and see what is going on over there, to her own surprise she saw a lot of women in a little room, ther were all on white rope and head tie worshipping their gods which brought Chuyia’s attention to them and decided to peep on them, after peeping she ran away.

While the camera was on full shot, tilt up and tilt down but has she was walking her shadow was also going with her because of the reflection of the sun on her body. While it could really seem little important in this sequences, it is very interesting when you put in the context with the rest of the film. Most of the film is set in the big compound Chuyia came from. The lighting outside is very cool and sharp the film seems to be questioning the reality of people and their actions (figure 3). One of the most interesting choices in terms of editing is a shot of Chuyia, over ten seconds long, as he was walking towards the old woman sitting on the floor. The camera refuses to cut away from her and first of all it seems almost greedy of her, but then we start to see how affected she was emotionally. Another shot shows a medium shot of Chuyaia playing with the parrots in the cage for a while before leaving the hut. This two shots is the perfect ideas of loneliness and closeness. The setting in this case is an rough / uncivilized world where society is far away, there are no rules which made people showcase their animalistic nature and behavior.

Deepa Metha like to explore this concept, how people really act outside the restriction of society, together with the argument of strong and barely controllable emotions. And lust. The film also explores how complicated love and relationships could be. Chuyia really loves her husband before he died and she wanted to leave the city, meanwhile Hindu law says she must now leave the society, so because of that her parents take her to a ancient ashram where widows of any ages live together. The little girl’s hair is clipped, and she is dressed in a white robe. She usually sleeps on a thin mat in a room with older women who spent their lonely lives in a form of rejection .

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The Features of Deepa Mehta`s Films. (2021, Aug 18). Retrieved from

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