Deepa Paving Her Own Way - Filmmaker Deepa Mehta By Pegah Aarabi Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta has become an icon in the film industry. One of few filmmakers to gain both international praise and scorn, the Indo-Canadian stays true to her vision, despite the many obstacles that befall her. Born in Amritsar, India, in 1949, Deepa immigrated to Canada in 1973 during a brief marriage to Paul Saltzman, a Canadian filmmaker and producer. She has been open in discussing the fact that she neither fully belonged in India after leaving, nor in Canada where she was always seen as a "visible minority". Deepa, whose father was a film distributor and theater owner, began her film career by making children's films. She moved on to television, as a producer and director. Her films â€“ starting with Sam & Me, to the latter day elements trilogy, which recently reached a conclusion with the highly anticipated final installment, Water â€“ deal with everything from sexuality, racial tension, racism, religion and patriarchy, to politics and forbidden love. As a result, Deepa is no stranger to controversy. At the Indian Film Festival in 1996, where the first installment of the elements trilogy, Fire, premiered male viewers became so enraged and violent that the police had to be called. The film, about sister-inlaws' who turn to each other for a relationship due to their husbands ambivalence, went on to win 14 international awards, but burnings of the theatres showing the film along with protests continued. The second installment in the series, Earth, didn't garner nearly as much controversy, but did manage to push some religious hot-buttons. Based on Bapsi Sidhwa's book Cracking India, the film is set during the tumultuous time in 1947 after the end of British colonial rule and tells the story of a Hindu girl and Muslim boy who fall in love. With all the controversies and successes behind her, in 2000 Deepa set out to make the final installment of the elements trilogy, Water, set in the late 1930's, about three widows in an ashram, a home for widows. Filming began in Varanasi, India. But based on her previous controversial films and the plotline of this one, sets were burned and filming was met with thousands of protesters. While she had permission to shoot the film, because of the unrest, the Indian government declared that law and order was at risk and that filming must be stopped. In 2004 Deepa began filming again, this time in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
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