August 08, 2020
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Deepa Mehta

On the remaking of her film Water in Colombo with a changed cast—Lisa Ray and John Abraham

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Deepa Mehta
Deepa Mehta
How was the River Moon shoot in Colombo?
River Moon was the working title. It's Water, my 4-year-old dream. I've relocated it from Varanasi.

It's been a traumatic time for you.
Water's journey has been traumatic but finally very satisfying. I came to terms with its disruption. My creative output wouldn't have been complete without finishing the trilogy.

The last Indian film to be shot in Colombo was Mani Ratnam's Kannathil Muthamittal.
I watched that and other films shot there and thought of Colombo as a location for Water. There were no hassles in getting permission for shooting.

Did you ever think of shelving the project?
I let all the fear and insecurity play itself out. I couldn't stop myself from doing Water just because some people would read political statements in it.

What made you choose Lisa Ray?
I had worked with Lisa and I thought she suited my heroine Kalyani's character to perfection.

But does she look like a Hindu widow?
Yes, as much as Aishwarya Rai in Chokher Bali.

Did John Abraham fit the bill?
I'm very happy with John. He did his homework, learnt to play the flute and also to speak Sanskrit. He was the prince on the crew.

How was Lisa Ray as an actress?
Stunning. You just have to see what she has achieved. Seema Biswas too was unbelievable.

Why did you replace Shabana and Nandita?
As the project travelled to Columbo, the demands for the roles changed. Nandita couldn't play Kalyani any more. Shabana was always right for Shakuntala. But she just couldn't do it any longer.

Which language have you shot Water in?
Hindi. We're hoping for a November release.

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