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Shooting Water: A Memoir of Second Chances, Family, and Filmmaking

About the Book

Shooting Water: A Memoir of Second Chances, Family, and Filmmaking

In Shooting Water: A Memoir of Second Chances, Family and Filmmaking, Devyani Saltzman details the parallel stories of working on one of her mother's films -- a production fraught with difficulty and danger -- as well as her efforts to rebuild the damaged relationship she shared with her mother.

At the age of 11, Saltzman's film-maker parents divorced and she was given the choice of which parent she wanted to live with. She chose her father and, as she says, her choice "has haunted me every day afterward." Years later, at age 19, she was invited to join the production crew of her mother's latest film, Water, which was shooting in India. Her mother, Deepa Mehta, desperately wanted to tell the heartbreaking true story of an invisible sect in Indian culture, the Hindu widow. For these women, their religion dictates that they must atone for their husband's death by living as "ascetics, wearing only white, the colour of mourning, shaving their heads to renounce vanity, and living in ashrams, or spiritual refuges." This custom of ascetic widowhood is still practiced today. Mehta's film was set in Benares, India in 1938, and told the story of three such widows.

When production began in Benares in 2000, it created a hue and cry, spawned riots and ultimately resulted in the film being shut down just one week into shooting. It wasn't until four years later that production resumed, this time in secret, in Sri Lanka. Devyani, now having finished college, once again flew to the set to join her mother and see her vision of Water come to life.

Shooting Water deftly chronicles the dual challenges of shooting a controversial movie and mending the strained relationship between Devyani and her mother. Through crafting a genuine portrait of the struggle for a mother and daughter to find common ground, Saltzman also illuminates a little-known part of Indian culture that will fascinate as well as educate readers everywhere.

Shooting Water: A Memoir of Second Chances, Family, and Filmmaking
by Devyani Saltzman

  • Publication Date: September 7, 2007
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 1557047855
  • ISBN-13: 9781557047854