Deepa Mehta’s controversial film Water is coming to the Majestic Cinema (Colombo, Sri Lanka) from the 2nd of June onwards. I am yet to see it, but from all I have read and heard, she is a very good filmmaker. I have an extra interest as, due to the problems Mehta faced in India, she had to do most of her work here in Sri Lanka, using the Bolgoda lake as a stand-in for the River Ganges.
But I have two problems with Mehta with regard to Water.
A Sri Lankan girl from Galle plays one of the lead roles in this film. This girl’s performance has been appreciated and applauded by all who have seen the film. But Mehta has not given this girl the respect she deserves. She is referred to and credited simply as “Sarala”. Sarala who? That is my question. Why couldn’t Mehta introduce this girl with her last name?
I think Sarala has been used by Mehta. The girl could not speak English, so I’m guessing that neither she nor her parents had a say in how she was credited by Mehta. Thus, she remains as Sarala, the child actress.
And also note that another such “child actress”, Ayesha Kapoor, who acted in Sanjay Leela Bansali’s Black won a Filmfare Award for best supporting actress. Therefore, the lack of attention paid to Sarala has perhaps destroyed her chances at a good career.
The other problem I have with Mehta is that she hasn’t credited Errol Kelly, the Sri Lankan production designer and art director who was responsible for the construction of the sets and overall production design for Water . Instead, Mehta’s brother Dilip has been credited; he may be an acclaimed photographer who got a Time cover when he was 24 (he’s in his 50s now), but he is no art director.
It was Kelly who was responsible for building a replica of the ghats and Hindu temples, but once again, Mehta has avoided giving deserved credit for Sri Lankan talent.
Kelly has worked on numerous Hollywood projects like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Mother Teresa, Jungle Book and The Iron Triangle. In all these films he has been credited as “art director — Sri Lanka.”
Therefore, isn’t it ironic that while the likes of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have credited him, an Indian does not have the decency to at least mention Kelly’s name?Powered by Sidelines