Set against the tumultuous backdrop of India in 1938, this poignant drama follows the life of an 8 year old girl. Shockingly, this innocent child who barely even remembers her wedding and has little comprehension of her marriage, has just been widowed. Required by ancient Hindu laws to now leave society, she is brought to a dilapidated widow house or ashram where, according to custom, her hair will be shorn, her clothes exchanged for white robes and the rest of her life, until her death, will be spent in renunciation.
However the feisty, precocious, disbelieving Chuyia (Sarala) soon turns the house upside down with her rebellious spark. She begins to have a profound affect on the other women who live there, in particular the devout Shakuntala (Seema Biswas) and the beautiful Kalyani (Lisa Ray) who has been forced into prostitution by the domineering head widow, Madhumati (Manorama).
It is Chuyia who leads Kalyani to meet the alluring law student and Gandhi nationalist Narayan (John Abraham), with whom Kalyani falls in love, despite the taboos. What happens next - an attempt at escape fueled by passion and bravery -- will change Chuyia forever and bring both tragedy and an unexpected ray of hope to the widow house.
Did you know?
The Varanasi schedule had to be stopped due to threats and demonstrations orchestrated by Hindu fundamentalist groups supported by the leadership of the state government in Uttar Pradesh. The protests were based on a previous version of the script which had been leaked, and lines of dialogue taken out of context to make them appear anti-Hindu. Director Deepa Mehta was burned in effigy during these protests. Read More