THE FORGOTTEN WOMAN (Dilip Mehta). 90 minutes. Subtitled. Screens today (Thursday, April 24) at the Isabel Bader as part of Hot Docs; also opens Friday (April 25). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNNN
Dilip Mehta’s directorial debut spins off Deepa Mehta’s feature film Water, set in 1938, to catch up with widows in contemporary India.
The result is a potent account of what is basically a disposable population. There are 45 million widows in India, most of them thrown out of their homes because it’s believed they’ll jinx the family.
We watch them begging on the streets or praying for a pittance at the temples, most of them with bodies racked by age, starving and alone.
It’s not a total bummer. Canadian expat and widow Ginny Shrivastava and Mohini Giri provide some inspiration. Shrivastava married an Indian man and relocated to Udaipur with her husband. When she was widowed, she could have left the country, but instead she stayed on to fight ignorance and promote women’s economic independence.
Giri operates a shelter for widows in Vrindavan, where hundreds of desperate woman have migrated.
This film looks amazing. Then again, Dilip Mehta has the production designer credit on the breathtaking Water, so it’s no surprise that The Forgotten Woman, which he directed and shot, is so stunningly beautiful.