I was plucked from my daily routine and dropped into the middle of another era that made me stop and appreciate the power of women to face challenges with zeal. It was like eating a healthy organic meal instead of the empty calories we are being asked to digest, the “chick flicks” that abound today.
I suggest to Jennifer Anniston et al. to take time to rethink women’s roles in film. Enough about wedding capers, failed relationships that are superficial, single layered and meaningless. Women are not all like Snookie or Kate Gosselin.
In my research for “GUTSY: How Women Leaders Make Change” I have been honored to meet, through books and film, the types of females I offer to the younger generation as role models.
One is the director Deepa Mehta who was raised in India and is willing to tackle complex, multi-layered issues about women, who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. Her 2005 film “WATER” is an experience I promise you will never forget.
This riveting tale takes place in 1938 when India is still under colonial rule by the British. Hindu tradition during that period accepted arranged marriages of young girls to older men. We follow eight year old Chuyia, from her family home through her wedding. When her husband dies she is sent, as tradition dictates to an ashram for Hindu widows where she is to spend the rest of her life.
For me, a modern professional American female who knows intellectually about arranged marriages in many cultures, about female genital mutilation, about the acceptance of rape and brutality against women throughout the world, this film still stunned me. It was about a little girl, an eight year old child.
It was an emotional roller coaster ride.
What stands out is the beauty of the human spirit to prevail. What stands out is how we can help each other. What stands out is the power we women have to say “it will stop now and it will stop with me”.
I offer a “GUTSY AWARD” to writer and director Deepa Mehta who had to withstand the ire of Hindu fundamentalists attempting to stop the production of the film. Mehta met with death threats and thousands of dollars of damage to the film set. Yet, she persevered and in that perseverance we all benefit.
This film will take you deep inside yourself to ponder the universal questions of what really matters, what roles do tradition and loyalty play in life, and what are the cultural patterns that still have to be faced and changed for the better.