Deepa Metha's "Water" is a conceited, contrived piece of film-making that marks most of the parallel Indian cinema in recent times. "Water" tells the story of the plight of widows in one of the most poor and orthodox societies in rural India. While the film tries hard to energize and juxtaposes questions of right and wrong in context of religion in an overly religious society, it fails because the viewer takes from the film individual episodes rather than a congruous lyric.

This is essentially an affected piece of film-making that uses society's ills to warm the tea parties of the rich and foreign rather than a genuine feeling of despair for the down-trodden. The film is more about the capacity of Deepa Mehta to raise her stake than that of her characters.

Casting Lisa Ray as a poor widow is just one of Mehta's conceits. Showing a rather weak and affected Gandhi is another. Anachronistic dialogue, characterization and just lopsided editing are other faults which put into question Mehta's commitment to this film consider how well crafted her last film in the "elements" series, "Earth: 1942" was. Jerky but gorgeously filmed Water is still much above the usual trite melodrama served by Indian cinema and must be respected for that more than anything else.

However, Meta who claims to bring about originality and wants to serve a film mostly to foreign audiences should at least take enough care to get her swastikas right. She draws the left and right swastikas as mirror images of each other making the left (on the screen) appear like the Nazi swastika.