Water review

Production on the final part of Deepa Mehta’s ‘Elements’ triptych (following Fire and Earth ) began back in 2000, its delayed release the result of death threats and even set-torching by religious fundamentalists. Given the writer/ director’s tenacity in getting it made, it’s surprising that the end product – a tale of forbidden love (a Mehta speciality) in repressed ’30s India – is more polite than passionate. There’s a shortage of spark between widowed beauty Kalyani (Lisa Ray) and idealist Narayan (John Abraham). Livelier is the parallel strand involving Chuyia (Sarala), a mouthy eight-year-old ‘widow’ who turns her new charity home upside down. Passing but resonant references to Gandhi’s rise capture the spirit of the times, while Mehta’s use of colour and landscape brings visual splash. Plenty of political and pictorial heft, then – but in terms of the personal, Water runs slightly dry.

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