A few months ago, M, father, mother and i were discussing about this. M had seen water. Father and me had attended a screening of nayi neralu.
Water, is an original by Deepa Mehta, and the latter is an adaptation of one of S.L. Bhyrappa's works(1968). Both portray the life of widows. These practises are rare these days. But, a thoughtful insight into the old practises is showcased.
In both the movies, we have young widows, bound by traditions. The background differs, with water featuring the northern(the bengali way according to me). Nayi neralu is set in Shivamogga(set in the western ghats).
I'll be concentrating on water. I've read more of bengali literature than that of kannada(*sigh*), and thus i can say that i relate better to the former.
I'd read 'those days' by Sunil Gangopadhyay 7-8years ago. That was the time when i was pulled into Satyajit Ray, Subhadra Sengupta(her 'The mystery of the house of pigeons' is pretty good). I was impressed by Gangopadhyay.
'those days' is set in ninteenth century bengal. I think the story revolves around two families(?). If i remember correctly, a boy and a girl are close pals from childhood. As they grow up, they become detached. The boy focusses on the needs of his family . At the age of 11(?), the girl is married. She becomes widowed within a few years. And comes back to her mother's place. Where she is expected to follow the rites of a widow, which she does. Submittig herself to Lord Krisha.
As time passes by, she travels to Benares, as was the custom those days. She joins a place meant for widows. Living off the meagre earnings that she recieves by begging. As per the fate of all widows who visit Benares, she gets herself involved in prostitution. Her childhood friend sights her onthe banks of the Ganga, where she is bought by a rich landlord.
My mind was young when i read this.. I was quite disturbed with the turn of events. This was the way in which widows were treated. And worse, religious reasons were cited.
nayi neraLu is relatively new compared to those days.
Father and M were of the opinion that these strories are quite irrelevant in today's society. Thus, should not be concentrated at. I agree that there are quite a few changes in the way we lead a life. For the better, of course.
On the other hand, such novels remind us of the past that we lead. Right or wrong, these rituals were followed by us. I'd like to opine that despite the remoteness of the subject, it's required that we be reminded of such conventions. Perhaps, we can learn a thing or two from it. Broadening our views and thoughts in the process.