Chances bright for Water at Houston film festival

The bubbly child widow in the film will be off to US for Houston fest, reports PK Balachandran.

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Sarala, the bubbly and mischievous child widow Chuliya in Deepa Mehta's Water couldn't make it to the Oscars, though the film had been short listed.

But all is not lost. She will be off to the United States in April for the Houston International Film Festival.

"Water is likely to bag an award there," said the 11-year-old Sri Lankan child star's father, Sarath Kariyawasam.

"And Sarala will be there," he told Hindustan Times emphatically, when asked if she and her family were disappointed that they could not attend the Oscar.

The family did not go because director Deepa Mehta could not wangle an invitation for her, he said.

"Initially we were invited, and Deepa asked us to be ready to come. But later, she called to say that she had only two invitations, for herself and the producer. But she said that she would try her best to get one more."

" When she couldn't get that, she felt bad, and offered to sacrifice her's to accommodate Sarala," Kariyawasam said, denying reports in Sri Lanka that Deepa Mehta had ignored the young Sri Lankan in the rush to be in the limelight.

"John (Abraham) was there. But I don't think he could attend the function," Kariyawasam said.

" Deepa loves Sarala. She calls her every month and sends books and posters," he said.

Salara, now 11, and in Grade 7 in a Sinhala medium school in the southern Sri Lankan town of Galle, was only 8 when she donned the white sari of an Indian widow and shaved the hair on her head for Water in 2004.

Her mother, homemaker Bhawani, was initially against her acting in the film or any film for that matter.

But she relented when Sarala showed a child-like enthusiasm.

Father Sarath, who works in an American oil company in Saudi Arabia, also fell in line.

Bhawani said she was unhappy when Deepa told her that widows in India shaved their heads and that her daughter had to go in for a tonsure.

But she gave in, again because of Sarala's enthusiasm to be in the film.

"I told Sarala she can't do that. But she replied: It's my hair!" Bhawai told in a recent interview.

And that was how the impish Sarala came to do the role in this classic in celluloid.

The film bug has clearly bitten Sarala. She wants to be a doctor, but while acting in films.

First Published: Feb 28, 2007 18:57 IST