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Elemental Films: Deepa Mehta's India Trilogy

Reviled by many in India for her first two controversial films, Fire and Earth, Deepa Mehta again aroused the ire of the Indian government and religious fundamentalists when she attempted to shoot Water first in the holy city of Varanasi and then at other locations. For trying to expose the plight of Indian widows, who are forced to enter “widow houses” and left to survive any way they can, Mehta received death threats, was burned in effigy in cities across the country, and had her set burned by a mob and thrown into the River Ganges. Though it took roughly five years to finish the project, she was able to complete the film in Sri Lanka under an assumed name.

For 15 years, Deepa Mehta has earned an enviable international reputation through her films Sam and Me (1991), Camilla (1994), Bollywood/Hollywood (2002), and The Republic of Love (2003). Born in Amritsar, India, she studied philosophy at the University of New Delhi before emigrating to Canada.