'Water': diasporic cinema and the transcendence of genre
Link to publisher version (URL)
After death threats from fundamentalist Hindu groups and understandable trepidation, Deepa Mehta's Water was eventually shot in Sri Lanka and released by Fox Searchlight in 2005. Mehta is no stranger to controversy: the previous two films in her 'elements trilogy' also caused ructions, particularly Fire (1996), which was denounced in India for depicting a same-sex relationship between two sisters-in-law in a middle-class Delhi household. Water completes the trilogy and has garnered critical acclaim (including an Academy Award nomination). It also marks a watershed in Mehta's particular brand of filmmaking: the writer-director is no longer angry with her motherland, nor critiquing the lip service paid to multiculturalism in her adopted Canada. In Water, she displays the creative restraint and political wisdom of a filmmaker who has understood that a film can transcend its context as well as the limitations and expectations of the 'genre shelf'.