Distributor BR Films have scheduled the Indian release of Deepa Mehta's Oscar nominated Water for March 9. Ravi Chopra of BR Films confirmed that the company would be releasing up to 100 prints nationally with a focus on multiplexes.

The controverisal film had originally been slated for a release in February.

'We decided to shift the release as we were not ready before. Now we have enough time to get to the consumer,' Chopra said. 'The Oscar buzz will also help,' The distributors have assigned a budget of $283,000 (Rs 1.25m) towards marketing the film in India.

Despite the reactions of fundamentalist factions to Water during its shooting in Varanasi, India, leading to the shutdown of the film and eventual relocation to Sri Lanka, Chopra does not fear a big backlash. 'I feel somebody has misguided these people. I have seen the film; it's a beautiful film and it did not hurt my sentiments in any way.'

Water is the story of three women and their uprising against gender injustice in the widow houses of Varanasi. Mehta struggled for five years to get the film made and it now has an imminent Indian release and an Oscar nomination.

The feature was released in the US by Fox Searchlight in April 2006 and went on to become the highest-grossing Hindi-language drama ever released in North America.

On a fleeting visit to India to promote the film, Mehta said: 'I thought India might never get to see Water and that would have been very sad. After all it is a Hindi-language film with Indian actors and is set in India. Thank god for Ravi Chopra.'

She hoped there would not be any negative reactions to the film especially given its box office and critical acclaim internationally.

Water, which completes Mehta's elements trilogy following Fire and Earth, is Canada 's official entry to the Academy Awards, has been nominated in the best foreign film category. Director Mehta will be attending the Oscars on February 25 with her cast of John Abraham, Lisa Ray and Seema Biswas and producer David Hamilton.