With Oscar awards just round the corner, speculation over Deepa Mehta's
winning the coveted prize is sky high.
Desi movie buffs were hugely disappointed when India's official entry for the Oscars - Rang De Basanti - was disqualified. Now they have pinned all their hopes on Water, a gripping 1930s tale of Indian widows in Varanasi.
Though Mehta's film represents Canada in the Oscar race, the director's Indian origin and cast of Indian stars like Lisa Ray, Seema Biswas and John Abraham have evoked patriotism.
John, who plays a Gandhian reformer in the film, is sure that Indians will make a mark on the Oscar arena soon. He said: "I am sure one day we are going to get it."
Most Indians across the globe will be glued to their TV sets to watch the awards on Feb 26 night.
On India's bad luck at the Oscars, Percept Picture Company managing director Shailendra Singh said: "We don't research the subject. We don't prepare ourselves because we want a quickie. We make a movie in seven-eight months."
"We don't have international consumers and still hoped 'Rang De Basanti' to be there. Did we make it for the Oscars? Did we make it keeping in mind we would like it to be seen by the entire world? I think we are skilled, we are hungry, but we need to do a lot of homework," Singh told IANS.
<b1>Water is the final instalment of Mehta's elemental trilogy after Fire and Earth. Both the films courted controversy because of the issues highlighted in the film.
While shooting Water in Varanasi in 1999, the director faced opposition from rightwing activists in India who destroyed the sets and burnt Mehta's effigies. But Mehta was determined to make it and four years later, filmed it in Sri Lanka.
Filmmaker Ravi Chopra, who is distributing and releasing the film in India, said the film might pick up the award.
He said: "It's a beautiful romantic film and deserves an Oscar. When people see the film, they will understand that they have no reason to have any problems with the movie."
When asked why only three Indian films have made it to the nomination list, Chopra said: "May be we haven't made films that touch their (western) sensibilities. We make films to our sensibilities and there are very few films that look after both sensibilities."
Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar feels otherwise. He said: "It's a big game and big lobby. You have to have proper people to communicate with the juries and to show them the movie."
But Mehta's film is seen in a positive light. If critics in the west are raving about other four entries - After The Wedding (Denmark), Days Of Glory (Algeria), The lives Of Others (Germany) and Pan's Labyrinth (Mexico) - they are lauding Mehta's film too.
Critics have said Water is richer and more convincing in its portrayal of the girl, Chuyia, sent to live with a houseful of widows.
As far as Indian links go, apart from Mehta's Water, Susanne Bier's After the Wedding too has a strong Indian tie. The film centres on Jacob Petersen, a Danish expatriate who has dedicated his life to helping street children in India.
If Water succeeds in impressing the jury and bagging the Academy award, it will surely open a new chapter for Indian filmmakers.