Review by: Jennifer Brooks
In Deepa Mehta’s powerful masterpiece, modern values challenge tradition and duty, and passion challenges asceticism. Sensuous and humorous, this exquisite film is set in India and infused with Indian religious teachings, specifically the story of Ram and Sita, where Sita must undergo a trial by fire to prove her purity.
Jatan presents his new bride, Sita, to his family at their shared home. He then unceremoniously deposits her in his bedroom and rushes off to be with his mistress. Sita is left to fend for herself in this new family and finds an ally and friend in her sister-in-law, Rada.
Rada’s husband has also abandoned her, though not for another woman. Her husband, Ashok, has devoted his life to a swami who espouses that desire is the root of all evil. Rada has been “dead” for thirteen years. She plays the role of dutiful wife to perfection and allows Ashok to “test” himself by lying next to him in bed until all desire leaves him.
Spirited Sita desires freedom and passion, and through Sita, Rada realizes that desire is the fire of life, without which life is not worth living. Together they awaken to the reality of their role in the family as dictated by tradition and learn to create choices where none previously existed.
When Sita and Rada become lovers their secret is betrayed, and the fire that feeds them threatens to destroy them. The climax of this film demands a high price. To claim their lives, they must walk directly into the flames of their own desire and emerge unscathed.
Date Night: High
A soulful, passionate and masterfully crafted film.
Fire has masterful storytelling, quality acting, and is the first Indian film to openly show a same-sex relationship. This film’s release also created real-life drama.
Realistic Representation: High
These characters believably move from being strangers to allies to lovers.