Caught My Eye: Fire

Friday, October 7, 2011

Image via DesiStudios

This movie came out in 1996, and I didn't hear about it until college. Clearly, I was deprived of some amazing works of art in my youth.

Fire is a movie about two Indian women who are in arranged marriages within the same family; the marriages are loveless and often they must bend to their husband's will regardless of whether he is being dutiful as well (sounds like a familiar narrative...).

The difference is that in Fire, the two women do get to fall in love - with each other. It's an amazing transition from viewing their acts as something wrong to finding the passion they need in one another.

I particularly enjoyed this movie because it was a really heartfelt interpretation of real life. There was a lot of Hindu religious imagery incorporated and a whole host of issues on the topics of sex and Indian home life. I felt that I bonded with the characters and felt compelled by their romance - no tokenizing here.

Now for some history: the film was banned in India (primarily because it was about lesbians, but also because there is brief female nudity and the very overt suggestion of masturbation). I can understand why it was banned there, for two reasons. The Indian government has reacted badly to other films, such as Slumdog Millionaire, because they do not want the portrayal of their country to be in any way "negative." The second is that I believe that there is a pervasive fear that women will be incensed to imitate the images on the screen. It's disingenuous to women to think that they will suddenly find the urge to be with other women and disobey their husbands just because of a film - more than likely, those thoughts have already been kicking around for them if they are watching the movie, and if they choose to act on them, more power to them.

I plan on watching the director, Deepa Mehta's two other films, Water and Earth, which are part of a trilogy of sorts surrounding different facets of Indian life.

Check out other amazing work that's caught my eye.