Indian distributor BR Films has scheduled the local release of Deepa Mehta's Oscar-nominated Water on 100 prints nationwide, with a focus on multiplexes, on March 9.

'We decided to shift the release as we were not ready before. Now we have enough time to get to the consumer and the Oscar buzz will also help,' said BR Films' Ravi Chopra.

The company has assigned a budget of almost $300,000 (Rs12.5m) towards marketing the film in India.

Hindu fundamentalists disrupted the initial shooting of Water in the city of Varanasi leading to its shutdown and eventual relocation to Sri Lanka. However, Chopra says he doesn't fear a backlash from these factions during the release: '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. It was released in the US by Fox Searchlight in April 2006 and went on to become the highest-grossing Hindi-language drama released in North America.

It has also been nominated in the best foreign-language film category of this year's Academy Awards as Canada 's entry. Director Mehta will be attending the event on Feb 25 with producer David Hamilton and her cast of John Abraham, Lisa Ray and Seema Biswas.

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.'