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by Devyani Saltzman
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In February 2000, international award-winning filmmaker Deepa Mehta began shooting Water, the third film in the Elements trilogy after Fire and Earth. Water examines the lives of Indian widows in the late 1930s and centres on seven-year-old Chuyia, a child bride who is brought to a widow house after the death of her 50-year-old husband. Young and innocent, precocious and defiant, Chuyia refuses to accept her fate and rebels against the traditional role that society has dealt her. Shot in the holy city of Benares, the film became the target of a series of vicious attacks mounted by Hindu fundamentalist political groups that accused Mehta of creating a negative portrayal of India, despite the fact that the script had been approved twice by the central government in New Delhi. Protestors destroyed the sets, burned effigies of the director and made threats on her life. Within a week, the film was shut down.So begins a five-year odyssey between a mother and daughter that culminated in the successful completion of Water on a secret location in Sri Lanka. Devyani Saltzman, daughter of Deepa Mehta and Canadian producer and director Paul Saltzman, travelled to Benares to reunite with her mother and to work on the film. Part Jewish, part Hindu and raised in Canada, Devyani had spent her life navigating between two religions, two traditions, two cultures and two peoplebelonging to both and to neither at once. Since her parents painful divorce when she was eleven years old, she had chosen to live primarily with her father. The filming of Water would be a mother and daughters second chance. Transformative and inspiring, Devyanis remarkable story chronicles her life-changing experience in India, the struggle to produce a film, and through that struggle, the emergence of a deeper love and mutual recognition between mother and daughter.

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