Shooting Water

Barbara Small

Shooting Water by Devyani Saltzman, daughter of the filmmaker Deepa Mehta (Key Porter), is a story about politics, love and the making of Mehta’s film Water. Saltzman’s parents divorced when she was eleven, and she chose to live with her father, a decision that strained her relationship with her mother from the day she left the family’s apartment in Cannes. Eight years later her mother invited her to India to be the third camera assistant for Water, and Saltzman thought it would be a good opportunity to get to know her mother again. Shooting Water is not just a book about the making of a film; it is a story about Hindu politics and right-wing nationalism, which closed down the shooting of the film in Benares, India. The author describes the terror of seeing her mother’s effigy burned in protest, and hearing death threats over the phone intended for her mother. She tells the story of the slow and sometimes painful healing of the mother/daughter relationship and exposes her own vulnerabilities in a believable way. The narrative pulls us into the story from the first line: “The train compartment smelled of incense and sour bodies,” and the details—wooden boats on the Ganges, tarnished brass containers and chai tea in handmade clay cups—can inspire or strengthen anyone’s desire to travel to India. Shooting Water is a captivating story of second chances, something most of us have wished for at some point in our lives.

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