Controversial writer/director Deepa Mehta was able to finish her Elements trilogy eight years later—after dealing with protests and demonstrations by angry religious fundamentalists, and after overcoming a set fire—with this final celebration of Hindu women going against India’s suppressive traditions. According to Indian culture, when the husband dies, the wife either must be cremated or marry the husband’s brother, if there is one. This film examines the unspoken third option for a widow: an ashram. Taking place in 1938, the film follows Chuyia, an extremely young widow who is sentenced to a life of mourning for a husband she doesn’t remember in a house with other widows. While she denies sweets and spices, wears a widow’s white uniform and witnesses the house mother outsource other “inmates” to prostitution, Chuyia questions the abusive traditions she has been forced to follow. Meanwhile, Mahatma Gandhi struggles to gain India’s independence from Great Britain in this fully formed, inspirational and visually stunning coming-of-age epic.


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