Movie Review: Fire- Deepa Mehta

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The movie Fire directed by Deepa Mehta is an internationally acclaimed feeling that was released uncut in India and was played for three consecutive weeks before it was claimed to be obscene, offensive, and immoral to Hindu religion and Indian culture by Hindu fundamentalist formations who made an attempt to have the movie banned.

Mehta, who also wrote the film made Fire an incredible experience and won the admiration of lover’s of art all over the world. The plot of the film is built around the life events of a Hindu family living in Delhi’s outskirts. Jutin, a character in the film, describes the main family in the film as a “joint family”. 

In this kind of family, everyone, including married children and their families live together all under one roof due to the uneven development of India. The family showed in the film is also home to an aged bed-ridden mother, Ashok and Jutin her sons, and their wives. There’s also Mundu, a manservant to the family who lives in the house,

The family depend on income from a fast-food outlet as well as a video rental business right next to the house for their livelihood. The younger brother Jutin helps the eldest son to manage the business. Their wives, Sita and Radha, ensure the fast-food outlet is running by preparing all the food.

Unknown to his older brother, Jutin has turned the video rental business in to a den of illegal transactions where he rents out blue films to young children. At the beginning of the film, Jutin is unmarried and spends some of his income from his blue-movie rental to maintain Julie, a hairdresser who he has a relationship with. Julie immigrated from Hong Kong to India with her parents.

On the other hand, Ashok, the elder brother spends a significant amount of his income to meet the needs of a religious guru who he visits regularly and maintains a close association with.

Ashok tries to explain to his family that the reason he has to maintain this relationship with the guru is because he will help to detach himself from sensual pleasures and consequently attain “universal truth”. 

When his wife Radha gets the news from doctors that she cannot bear children, Ashok turns into a “brahmacharin”. It basically means he uses the absence of sex to gain spiritual and religious advancement. He has taken advantage of his wife’s barrenness to get spiritual freedom or moksha. To prove himself according to Gandhian traditions, and as part of the exercise to show the power he has of resisting sensual desires, he forces his wife to sleep next to him on the bed. Radha is consumed by a burning sense of injustice but must endure her husband’s demand in order to maintain her role as a traditional woman.

Julie, Jutine’s girlfriend, refuses to marry into a “joint-family” and has, in the meantime developed bourgeois habits. He is forced to marry Sita and maintain a relationship with Julie after pressure from his brother to continue the family name. Gradually, Sita and Radha form an affectionate relationship which ultimately turns into a sexual one.

As portrayed in the film, the relationship between Radhi and Sita wins the empathy of the audience and gains unreserved respect.

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