Canada / India, 1996 (fiction, 108 minutes, colour, English / Hindi)
Also known as
"Fire - Wenn die Liebe Feuer fängt", "Fogo", "Fogo E Desejo", "Fuego", "Ogien", "Tuli"
"In a barren, arranged marriage to an amateur swami who seeks enlightenment through celibacy, Radha's life takes an irresistible turn when her beautiful young sister-in-law seeks to free herself from the confines of her own loveless marriage."
|Film Credits (partial):
||Bobby Bedi, Varsha Bedi, Suresh Bhalla, Karen Lee Hall, David Hamilton,
Anne Masson, Deepa Mehta|
||Shabana Azmi, Khulbushan Kharbanda, Nandita Sen, Javed Jaaferi,
Ranjit Chowdhry, Kushal Rekhi, Nandita Das, Karishma Jhalani,
Ramanjeet Kaur, Dilip Mehta, Vinay Pathak, Alice Poon|
||A. R. Rahman|
||Trial by Fire Films, Inc., Kaleidescope
India (Pvt.) Ltd.|
Notes about Fire
- Filmed in New Delhi and Agra, India.
- In 1998, Fire was attacked in India by protesters from the Hindu Right, who ransacked cinemas that were showing the film.
- Adapted from the short story 'The Quilt' by Ismat Chughtai, written in Urdu in 1942.
Quotes by the Director
"There were people who loved it [Fire], and I think some in India were appalled.
Nobody was indifferent to it, and that is what's fascinating. The reaction
of the fundamentalists to the film could happen to anything that challenges
the patriarchal society, and that was the problem with Fire. The
lesbian relationship was the most obvious thing for them to hang on to. I
found out in talking on panels to people from Shiv Sena [which violently
opposed the screening of the film] that what really offended people was that the women have a choice: 'How dare you portray women who choose to go
against the traditional ways?'"
-- Deepa Mehta
"To me, Fire was about politics. It deals with questions of identity and who has the right to tell you who you are. This is politics -- and for women, life is often a very political existence."
-- Deepa Mehta
Quotes about Fire
"As news of the cinema trashings spread, lesbian and women's groups mobilized
energetically against them. On December 7 , lesbians, artists, and
women's groups, along with Fire producer Deepa Mehta, held a candlelight vigil
in front of a previously trashed theater in Delhi (Regal Cinema), photos of
which appeared throughout the press, including the Hindu nationalist press.
One of the most visible vigil banners read 'Indian and Lesbian' (thereby
countering the HSS claim that lesbianism is not Indian)."
-- Paola Bacchetta
"In her bold decision to use the names of Sita and Radha for the lesbian sisters-in-law in her screenplay, Deepa Mehta is not merely secularizing the names of quasi-divine figures, she is making a thoroughly irreverent and contemporary statement about the Great Indian Family tradition. If there is anything that the audience has responded to in her film, I do believe it is the humour that is at once satirical in its attack on bogus Hindu religiosity and morality, but which is also intensely familiar in its grounding within the daily rituals of urban middle-class domesticity."
-- Rustom Bharucha
"The public controversy over Deepa Mehta's film Fire in 1999 has allowed for a significant increase in attention in cities to 'lesbians' and 'rights.'"
-- Suparna Bhaskaran
"Fire is the first Indian film to present explicitly a relationship between women as lesbian. It provoked violent reactions from the Shiv Sena, who considered it 'alien to Indian culture' and vandalised theatres showing the film. [...] In reaction to the Shiv Sena protests, Indian lesbian groups demonstrated on the streets proclaiming that 'lesbianism is our Indian heritage', evoking homoerotic traditions in Indian literature, paintings and erotic sculptures, partly suppressed during the colonial era."
-- Shohini Chaudhuri
"[Fire is a] truly marvellous film, and ground-breaking, too, as far as the depiction -- for the first time -- of a lesbian relationship in India is concerned. [...] Director Deepa Mehta's greatest achievement is to place the pair's burgeoning relationship against the context of everyday restrictions on women's lives."
-- Alison Darren
"Fire was released in India in November 1998, over a year after it was internationally released. [...] It was screened for three weeks in the city and the country and ran to full houses. Special women's shows were organised every week in Mumbai. It is without doubt that the film brought the issue of lesbianism into the public domain for discussion. For the first time, lesbianism moved from the grey areas of silence and half-murmurs, to the arena of the 'big' screen. It forced all kinds of people to make public their positions [...]. The film screening was disrupted three weeks after its release by the Mahila Aghadi -- the women's wing of the Shiv Sena (a Hindu fundamentalist party). [...] After the initial period of shock, many groups in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and other parts of the country organised to counter this attack. In many ways, the film acted as a trigger for processes all over the country."
-- Bina Fernandez, N.B. Gomathy
"Fire qualifies as a queer classic because it is the first Indian film to bring women in love out of the margins and into the mainstream and to provide a body to the shadow-like subliminal lesbian of film narratives in India. But more importantly, Fire inaugurates a new interpretive strategy by explicitly crossing the line between female homosociality and female homosexuality."
-- Shohini Ghosh
"In one scene [...] Sita massages Radha's feet at a family picnic, transforming a daily homosocial activity into an intensely homoerotic one while the other members of the family unwittingly look on. The slide from female homosociality into female homoeroticism in this scene, as well as in another where Radha rubs oil into Sita's hair, serves to locate female same-sex desire and pleasure firmly within the confines of the home and 'the domestic,' rather than occurring safely 'elsewhere.'"
-- Gayatri Gopinath
"Fire's significance lies not so much in representing sexual pleasure between women, as it does in representing this relationship in the context of a joint Hindu family household at the very moment when the Hindu Right is in power. The representation of a lesbian relationship in the film as well as the controversy that erupted around its screening are not fortuitous. Fire needs to be located in the broader cultural wars that have been exploding across [India] over the past several years."
-- Ratna Kapur
"In reacting to Fire as it did, the Hindu Right put its own ongoing agenda of cultural hegemony under the spotlight and sent a strong signal that the burden of Hindu nationalism was likely to fall heavily on women."
-- Julie Marsh, Howard Brasted
"The multivalent reception of Fire in India is most usefully seen as an arena wherein a number of discourses around femininity, sexuality and modern nationalism intersect and feed on each other. The various articles and commentaries presented radically polarized understandings of the function of cinema and of Fire's representations of middle-class Indian women. These responses can be understood only in the context of the difficult shifts and uneasy negotiations that mark the construction of modern India; the different valences accorded to gender, sexuality and religion in competing definitions of Indianness."
-- Sujata Moorti
"[Deepa] Mehta's trilogy [Fire, Earth, and Water] binds the elemental with the feminine and probes the way women are preyed upon and shackled by social institutions, pulverized and bartered by patriarchy. The trilogy represents in its totality a powerful and significant cultural challenge to the dominating masculine values and practices of oppression, subjugation and exploitation of women. Since Mehta happens to be a woman director, her courage in the face of intimidation by the largely patriarchal forces must be acknowledged as the immensely relevant preface to her film Water."
-- Tutun Mukherjee
"Fire documents a burgeoning intimacy between two women, the wives of two
brothers, that culminates in their shared departure from the conjugal family
and husbands. While exploring the seemingly ordinary setting of married,
middle-class, conjugal family life, this film documents the characteristic
hypocrisies, tensions, and inadequacies from the viewpoint of these two
-- Jyoti Puri
Bibliography for Fire
- Ghosh, Shohini. Fire: A Queer Film Classic. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010.
- Jain, Jasbir. Films, Literature, and Culture: Deepa Mehta's Elements Trilogy. Jaipur: Rawat Publications, 2007.
- Bachmann, Monica. "After the Fire." In Queering India: Same-Sex Love and Eroticism in Indian Culture and Society, edited by Ruth Vanita, 234-243. New York: Routledge, 2002.
- Das, Dilip K. "Lesbianism As Resistance: Sex, Gender and Identity Politics in Deepa Mehta's Fire." In Signifying the Self: Women and Literature, edited by Malashri Lal, Shormishtha Panja, and Sumanyu Satpathy, 169-180. New Delhi: Macmillan India, 2004.
- Fernandez, Bina, and N.B. Gomathy "Fire, Sparks, and Smouldering Ashes." In Because I Have a Voice: Queer Politics in India, edited by Gautam Bhan and Arvind Narrain, 197-204. New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2005.
- Gopinath, Gayatri. "Local Sites / Global Contexts:
The Transnational Trajectories of Deepa Mehta's Fire." In Queer
Globalizations: Citizenship and the Afterlife of Colonialism, edited by Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé and Martin F. Manalansan. New York: New York University Press, 2002.
- Gopinath, Gayatri. "Local Sites/Global Contexts: The Transnational Trajectories of Fire and 'The Quilt'." In Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures, 131-160. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.
- Kabir, Shameem. "Lesbian Spectating of Film: Extratext, Subtext, Intertext, Interdiscourse: Desperately Seeking Susan at the Bagdad Café Looking for Salmonberries and Fire." In Daughters of Desire: Lesbian Representations in Film, 183-207. Washington, DC: Cassell, 1998.
- Kishwar, Madhu Purnima. "Naive Outpourings of a Self-hating Indian: Deepa Mehta's Fire." In Zealous Reformers, Deadly Laws: Battling Stereotypes, 100-118. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 2008.
- Lo, Malinda. "Fire Is Released in Toronto." In LGBT History, 1993-2004, 57-59. Boston: Great Neck Publishing, 2005. [reference work]
- Nanda, Mini. "Symbolism and Space in Aparna Sen's Paroma and Deepa Mehta's Fire." In Films and Feminism: Essays in Indian Cinema, edited by Jasbir Jain and Sudha Rai. Jaipur, India: Rawat Publications, 2009.
- Pandey, Vikash N. "Emancipated Bodies / Embodying Liberation: Debating through Fire." In Sexual Sites, Seminal Attitudes: Sexualities,
Masculinities, and Culture in South Asia, edited by Sanjay Srivastava, 188-208. New Delhi: Sage, 2004.
- Parameswaran, Uma. "Contextualizing Diasporic Locations in Deepa
Mehta's Fire and Srinivas Krishna's Masala." In In Diaspora: Theories,
Histories, Texts, edited by Makarand R. Paranjape. New Delhi: Indialog Publications, 2001.
- Patel, Geeta. "On Fire: Sexuality and Its Incitements." In Queering India: Same-Sex Love and Eroticism in Indian Culture and Society, edited by Ruth Vanita, 222-233. New York: Routledge, 2002.
- Ramaswamy, Vijaya. "Deepa Mehta's Images of Fire: An Interview with Vijaya Ramaswamy." Interview with Deepa Mehta. In Re-searching Indian Women, edited by Vijaya Ramaswamy, 59-64. New Delhi: Manohar, 2003.
- Singh, Jaspal Kaur. "Queering Diaspora in Shani Mootoo's Cereus Blooms at Night, Nisha Ganatra's Chutney Popcorn, and Deepa Mehta's Fire." In Representation and Resistance: South Asian and African Women's Texts at Home and in the Diaspora, 163-176. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2008.
Brief Sections of Books
- Bacchetta, Paola. "Extraordinary Alliances in Crisis Situations: Women against Hindu Nationalism in India." In Feminism and Antiracism: International Struggles for Justice, edited by Kathleen M. Blee and France Winddance Twine. New York: New York University Press, 2001. (pp. 236-241)
- Butler, Alison. Women's Cinema: The Contested Screen. London: Wallflower, 2002. (pp. 120-123)
- Chaudhuri, Shohini. Contemporary World Cinema: Europe, the Middle East, East Asia and South Asia. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005. (pp. 169-171)
- Darren, Alison. Lesbian Film Guide. New York: Cassell, 2000. (pp. 74-75)
- Dickinson, Peter. Screening Gender, Framing Genre: Canadian Literature into Film. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007. (pp. 169-172)
- Gopalan, Lalitha. "Indian Cinema." In An Introduction to Film Studies, 3rd ed, by Jill Nelmes. London: Routledge, 2003. (pp. 379-380)
- Hollinger, Karen. Feminist Film Studies. London: Routledge, 2012. (pp. 215-227)
- Kumar, Amitava. Passport Photos. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. (pp. 192-195)
- Puri, Jyoti. Woman, Body, Desire in Post-Colonial India: Narratives of Gender and Sexuality. New York: Routledge, 1999. (pp. 204-207)
- Stockton, Kathryn Bond. "The Queerness of Race and Same-Sex Desire." In The Cambridge Companion to Gay and Lesbian Writing, edited by Hugh Stevens. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011. (pp. 127-129)
- Arora, Kulvinder. "The Mythology of Female Sexuality: Alternative Narratives of Belonging." Women 17, no. 2 (Summer 2006): 220-250.
- Banerjee, Bidisha. "Identity at the Margins: Queer Diasporic Film and the Exploration of Same-Sex Desire in Deepa Mehta's Fire." Studies in South Asian Film & Media 2, no. 1 (July 2010): 19-39.
- Banerjee, Payal. "Chinese Indians in Fire: Refractions of Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality and Citizenship in Post-Colonial India's Memories of the Sino-Indian War." China Report: A Journal of East Asian Studies 43, no. 4 (December 2007): 437-463.
- Banerjee, Sikata. "Women, Muscular Nationalism and Hinduism in India: Roop Kanwar and the Fire Protests." Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 11, no. 3 (2010): 271-287.
- Barron, Alexandra Lynn. "Fire's Queer Anti-Communalism." Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 8, no. 2 (2008): 64-93.
- Bose, Brinda. "The Desiring Subject: Female Pleasures and Feminist Resistance in Deepa Mehta's Fire." Indian Journal of Gender Studies 7, no. 2 (July-December 2000): 249-262.
- Brasted, Howard, and Julie Marsh. "Fire, the BJP and Moral Society." South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 25, no. 3 (2002): 235-251.
- Chadha, Gita. "Fire: Towards a Relational Sexuality." New Quest 138 (November-December 1999): 353-357.
- Chowdhury, Kanishka. "Transnational Transgressions: Reading Mira Nair's Kama Sutra and
Deepa Mehta's Fire in a Global Economy." South Asian Review 24, no. 1 (2003): 180-201.
- Desai, Jigna. "Homo on the Range: Mobile and Global
Sexualities." Social Text 20, no. 4 (Winter 2002): 65-89.
- Gairola, Rahul. "Burning with Shame: Desire and
South Asian Patriarchy, from Gayatri Spivak's 'Can the Subaltern Speak?'
to Deepa Mehta's 'Fire'." Comparative Literature 54, no. 4 (2002): 307-324.
- Gopinath, Gayatri. "Nostalgia, Desire, Diaspora: South Asian Sexualities in Motion." Positions 5, no. 2 (Autumn 1997): 467-489.
- Gopinath, Gayatri. "On Fire." Review of Fire. GLQ 4, no. 4 (1998): 631-636.
- Goswami, Namita. "Autophagia and Queer Transnationality: Compulsory
Heteroimperial Masculinity in Deepa Mehta's Fire." Signs 33, no. 2 (Winter 2008): 343-369.
- John, Mary E., and Tejaswini Niranjana. "Mirror Politics: Fire, Hindutva and Indian Culture." Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 1, no. 2 (August 2000).
- Kapur, Ratna. "Too Hot to Handle: The Cultural Politics of Fire." Feminist Review, no. 64 (Spring 2000): 53-64.
- Loomba, Anita. "Turning Point: Fundamentals and English Studies." Textual Practice 13, no. 2 (1999): 221-225.
- Mannur, Anita. "Feeding Desire: Food,
Domesticity, and Challenges to Hetero-Patriarchy." Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies 10, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 34-51.
- Moorti, Sujata. "Inflamed Passions: Fire, the Woman Question, and the Policing of Cultural Borders." Genders, no. 32 (2000), http://www.genders.org/g32/g32_moorti.html.
- Naim, C.M. "A Dissent on 'Fire'." Economic and Political Weekly 34, no. 16/17 (April 17, 1999): 955-957.
- Patton, Laurie L. "Fire, the Kali Yuga, and Textual
Reading." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 68, , no. 4 (2000): 805-816.
- Rajan, Gita. "Pliant and Compliant: Colonial Indian Art and Postcolonial Cinema." Women 13, no. 1 (March 1, 2002): 48-69.
- Singh, Jaspal Kaur. "Transnational
Multicultural Feminism and the Politics of Location: Queering Diaspora in
Nisha Ganatra's Chutney Popcorn, Deepa Mehta's Fire, and Shani
Mootoo's Cereus Blooms at Night." South Asian Review 26, no. 2 (2005): 148-161.
- Upadhya, Carol. "Set This House on Fire." Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 1, no. 2 (August 2000).
Brief Sections of Journal Articles
- Bruschi, Isabella. "Making up with Painful History: The Partition of India in Bapsi Sidhwa's Work; Bapsi Sidhwa Interviewed by Isabella Bruschi." Interview with Bapsi Sidhwa. Journal of Commonwealth Literature 43, no. 3 (2008). (pp. 148-149)
- Rockwell, Daisy. "The Shape of a Place: Translation and Cultural Marking in South Asian Fictions." Modern Philology 100, no. 4 (2003). (pp. 603-606)
Newspaper or Magazine Articles
- Bearak, Barry. "A lesbian idyll, and the movie theaters surrender:
members of India's Shiv Sena movement violently attack theaters showing film Fire." New York Times, December 24, 1998, Late New York Edition.
- Comer, Brooke. "Fire sets traditional Indian family values ablaze: shooting Fire, a film about a New Delhi family." American Cinematographer, January 1997.
- Cuthbert, Pamela. "Deepa Mehta's trial by fire." Review of Fire. Take One (Toronto), Winter 1997.
- Fuller, Graham. "Fire." Review of Fire. Interview, September 1997.
- Green, Sara Jean. "Director facing Indian protest: Deepa Mehta to defend lesbian portrayal in Fire." Toronto Star, December 4, 1998, Entertainment section.
- Groen, Rick. "Film review: Fire." Review of Fire. Globe and Mail, September 19, 1997.
- Herizons. "Fire under fire." Herizons, Winter 1999.
- Jaffer, Fatima. "Lesbians on screen at the Vancouver International Film Festival: Fire leaves myths in ashes." Review of Fire. Kinesis, November 1996.
- Johnson, Brian D. "Fire." Review of Fire. Maclean's, September 29, 1997.
- Kelly, Brendan. "Fire." Review of Fire. Variety, September 16, 1996.
- Kishwar, Madhu. "Naive outpourings of a self-hating Indian: Deepa Mehta's Fire." Manushi, no. 109, November-December 1998.
- Kishwar, Madhu. "Responses to Manushi." Manushi, no. 112, May-June 1999.
- Lacey, Liam. "East meets west in Deepa Mehta film: A director who spends half the year in Canada and half in her native India, Mehta says she refuses to choose when it comes to nationality." Globe and Mail, September 20, 1997, Metro Edition.
- Mahajan, Renu. "Fire." Review of Fire. Herizons, Spring 1998.
- Malik, Rachel. "Fire." Review of Fire. Sight & Sound, January 1999.
- Sharma, Parvez. "Burning down the house: The turmoil in India over Deepa Mehta's Fire." Trikone Magazine, vol. 14, no. 2, 1999.
- Sidhwa, Bapsi. "Playing with fire." Interview with Deepa Mehta. Ms., November-December 1997.
- Stackhouse, John. "Filmmaker unbowed by flak generated by movie: Deepa Mehta goes on TV in India to accuse opponents of acting like 'cultural police'." Globe and Mail, December 5, 1998.
- Van Gelder, Lawrence. "Fire." Review of Fire. New York Times, October 2, 1996, Late New York Edition.
- Wilkinson, Kathleen. "Filmmaker Deepa Mehta is on fire." Lesbian News, September 1997.
- Arora, Kulvinder. "The Mythology of Female Sexuality." In "Assimilation and Its Counter-Narratives: Twentieth-Century European and South Asian Immigrant Narratives to the United States," 185-229. PhD diss., University of California, San Diego, 2006.
- Kolluri, Satish Kumar. "Nationalism and the Subject of Sexuality." In "Whose Nation Is It Anyway? Nationalism and the Metaphorics of Secular Subjectivity," 90-115. PhD diss., University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2002.
- Krishnamurti, Sailaja Vatsala. "Chapter 1." In "Boundaries on Fire: Hybridity and the Political Economy of Culture," 19-45. M.A. diss., University of Victoria, 2000.
- Mannur, Anita. "Feeding Desire: Food, Domesticity and Challenges to Hetero-Patriarchy." In "Culinary Scapes: Contesting Food, Gender and Nation in South Asia and Its Diaspora," 63-98. PhD diss., University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2002.
Web Sites about Fire