Saturday, June 26, 2010


Deepa Mehta, India-Canada, 2005 (9.5*)
In India during the late 1930's , Young Chuyia is married at just eight, and her husband dies of disease, making her a Hindu widow, who basically have no cultural rights as they are considered "half dead" rather than still alive. They are committed to a small communal ashram which survives by begging. Life within the ashram is harsh for such a young girl, who keeps expecting her mother to come take her home. She's just gone from having a husband and parents to having no one but strange women around her.

She is befriended there by a beautiful prostitute, Kalyani, played by the gorgeous Lisa Ray, who has the grace of a young Audrey Hepburn. On a daily visit to the river, they meet Narayan, a handsome young lawyer, played by matinee idol John Abraham (photo left), who is struck by Kalyani's grace and beauty. Traditions threaten to interfere with their lives however, even though Naraman is modern, a follower of Gandhi, trying to help get beyond the caste system and other societal prejudices and treat all as equals on the eve of India's independence.

The film is stolen by young Serala as Chuyia, in her first film - she is captivating onscreen and you never feel that she is acting at all, just being a little girl overwhelmed by her childhood freedom ending far too soon, and chained to a culture's unbending traditional ties. Mehta frames every shot with a photographer's eye for beauty in lighting and color. Beyond the story, the artistic quality of this film will interest all serious cinephiles; one soon realizes that Mehta is one of the best directors around, certainly one of the best female directors of all time. Features beautiful music by double Oscar®-winner A.R. Rahman, not as pop as his Slumdog compositions and better-suited for the film's action here.

Note: This third film in Mehta's "trilogy", which began with Fire and Earth, caused quite a bit of controversy in India upon release; traditionalist Hindu organizations tried to get the film banned.


g3 July 29, 2010 at 8:39 PM  

I totally agree. Deepa Mehta is one of the best! :)

I do think you'll find it quite rewarding to look into Indian regional cinema, for instance, Vaanaprastham, Panchagni, Akale etc. (These are Malayalam movies from deep south)

Your reviews are great :) though I'm afraid I think movies like Veer-Zaara, Bride and Prejudice and the like are a bit of a torment to sit through :(

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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