• Introduction
• Film Stills
• Shabana Azmi
• Deepa Mehta


• Sign the Guestbook
• Read the Guestbook

Other Sites
by Caroline Marshall

• Dawn French
• Ruby Wax
• Arabella Weir
• Meera Syal
• Gimme Gimme Gimme
• Victoria Wood
• Caroline Aherne
• Liza Tarbuck
• Caroline Quentin
• Lenny Henry
• Pauline Quirke


"I'm so sick of all this devotion. We can find choices" - Sita

Fire, the controversial film written and directed by Deepa Mehta, tells the story of two women living in contemporary Delhi. The films stars Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das as Radha and Sita, characters who dare to rebel against the traditional roles expected to be undertaken by indian women.

The film explores the pressure of women to be pure and docile, undemanding and unquestioning of their husbands. It illustrates the choices for women in a society which has traditionally denied them.

The emotional and physical abuse of these characters by their husbands is something that has hardly been mentioned by this film's many harsh critics. Instead the film has been attacked for its lesbian content. In fact, anyone who watches the film will understand that the film is about women's choices, power and decisions. Perhaps these are the real issues that mainstream India appeared to have a problem with.

When 'Fire' was released in India, cinemas were violently attacked and posters torn down, leading the majority of cinemas to withdraw the film. Although Fire was passed uncut by the censors twice, Hindu fundamentalists spoke out against the homosexual content, saying it was not a part of their society's religion or customs and most of all should definitely not be tackled using Hindu characters.

The film also considers the ares of multiculturalism and interracial relationships, cross-dressing, pornography; all issues apparently evident in contemporary India but which have never been discussed or shown on film.

The film and its characters

Sita has left her home and family to live with a husband that she finds is in love with a woman he is still dating.

"I am treated like a household pet and I take it, that's what hurts" - Sita

Radha is emotionally tortured by her husband, who obsessively seeks enlightenment as a result of his disappointment with his wife's inability to conceive.

"Swamiji says the only reason to have a sexual relationship is to have sons that will carry on the family name. And so one night, many years ago, Ashok found a way of turning our misfortune into an opportunity. He took a vow of celebacy." - Radha

Both women, lonely and trapped in loveless marriages, turn to each other for comfort and friendship. They help each other to break away from their subordinate roles within the family to the point where they have no need for their husbands in any way, something that is very shocking within this traditional and patriarchal society.

"Sita says the concept of duty is overrated" - Radha to her husband Ashok

"I think you are a pompous fool" - Radha to her husband Jutin

It is Sita who first initiates and romantic development in their relationship, which allows the women to escape their unfortunate marital situations. What their husbands deny them, Radha and Sita find in each other.

"There's no word in our language that can describe what we are, how we feel about each other" - Sita

Website created by Caroline Marshall -> Contact Page last modified: 02 December 2002