The exquisitely bittersweet "Water," written and directed by Deepa Mehta, gives Westerners a surprising look at how the old ways flourish in India in the midst of a changing world.
The story takes place in 1938 and centers around Chuyia, a beautiful 8-year-old girl who doesn't remember getting married but has now become a widow. Following sacred Hindu customs, her head is shaved, she must wear a plain white sari, and she is banished by her parents to live the rest of her days in a shabby home for widows by the Ganges River. Uncomprehending, Chuyia waits for her mother to come back for her.
According to custom, widows have three options: to be cremated with their dead husbands, live secluded lives or marry the husband's younger brother. They live in poverty and earn money for food and rent by begging.