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Elemental Indian Trilogy Saves the Best for Last

Dye transfer
photo: Fox Searchlight

Production on the third and most powerful chapter of Indian filmmaker Deepa Mehta's "Elements" trilogy was delayed for years by religious fundamentalists who staged demonstrations, torched the filmmaker's sets, and threatened her life. But she was not to be thwarted. This work of gorgeous fury, about the virtual imprisonment of millions of Hindu widows in the years before independence, transforms Mehta's feminist rage into an eloquent testament to the hunger for freedom. Her heroines, an eight-year-old widow called Chuyia (played by Sarala, a child chosen from a village in Sri Lanka) and a beautiful woman in her twenties (Lisa Ray), come to embody the spirit of the time (the film is set in 1938), when the great liberationist Mahatma Gandhi was on the rise, but the old repressions were still very much in force.


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