Incredible movies about incredible India-Deepa Mehta’s trilogy

Last year in September I had upcoming trip to India and before heading to this incredible country, as every tourist I began to prepare myself and got some travel books from library. What caught my attention in library on a foreign movies shelf was Deepa Mehta movies. I have never seen her movies before, so in connection with my India trip I thought I was so lucky to discover and finally find her.

Deepa Mehta is an Indian film director. Her famous movies are Fire, Earth and Water. It is a trilogy that gives a good insight about the problems of Indian culture.  It is not like other bollywood movies, with lots of singing and dancing. They are serious ones, with deep thoughts, about life, human rights and traditions. These movies will leave you with the urge to think about issues and make an impact or small change in your life, in the people around you, in the community.

Film “Fire” was shot in 1996 and is about a girl who gets married and seems to be excited about it. You cannot say that about her husband. As you may know, most of marriages in India are arranged. It is traditional for families to make deals. It is interesting that Families exchange horoscopes of future husband and wife, just to be sure that they match each other. We see in the film that traditions are not always good. In some cases people have to go other way then traditions to be happy.

Film “Earth” set during the dark and chaotic time of partition in India. With the end of British rule, India was divided into India and Pakistan. Both declared Independence. In this film social and political events take place during this period, tied with a love story. We see how Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs lived before and after the independence. The war and problems which started with independence of India and Pakistan aren’t over today. We see how people change, how people build and are divided by groups which they think they belong to.

Film “Water” is the last part of trilogy. Little girl of age is 8 is a widow. It was common in India to marry little girls to old men. Her husband died, so according to Hindu tradition widow had 3 choices: The first is to marry her late husband’s younger brother (if he will have her). Second is considered honorable thing to do: jump into the fire, literally. This custom, called Sati, or widow burning, has been outlawed but is still practiced in some remote areas. The third option is for her to be placed in ashram, or Widow’s House and live a life of suffering and self-denial.  Little girl is brought to such ashram to live with other widows. We can imagine how hard would be for a little girl to understand her situation. We see how the widows lived in India in 1940ies. This was a time when India was struggling between old traditions and a new way of thinking introduced by Gandhi. Now we live in year 2011. For sure, things change, but widows still face difficulties in India and not only in India.

War, tradition, woman rights are major issues all over the world. These movies will not only get the viewer closer to India and to its historical part, but give him or her opportunity to think over about the values we have and decisions we make as society.