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Fire - Deepa Mehta, Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das, Kulbushan Kharbanda

Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Radha (Shabana Azmi), is the heartbeat of the take-out restaurant run by her husband, Ashok (Kulbushan Kharbanda); and of the household she shares upstairs with his ancient mother, Biji, and his brother Jatin (Jaaved Jaaferi).

Jatin's young bride, Sita (Nandita Das), comes to live with the family. She fits well into her new daily routine, helping Radha in the kitchen and caring for Biji. But we soon discover that the venerable traditions upon which the household rests are threadbare. Jatin is obsessed with his Chinese mistress; Ashok and Radha are not coping well with a barren 15-year-old marriage; and the servant, Mundu, delights in showing Biji X-rated videos borrowed from under the counter at Jatin's video store.

Sita's remarkably modern personality has a profound effect on Radha, who is at once surprised and fascinated. through their relationship, Radha is, for the first time, brought to question every notion she has had about her place in this world.

Fire is a film about desire and the manifestation of desire. It's about thwarted passions, spiritual obsessions, soured aspirations, secret lives and isolation; it explores the contradictions and chaos that exist between the old and the new, between East and West, and between the spiritual and the material.

Theatrical propaganda posters

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Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film India romance love woman family marriage lesbian passion

Persons of interest

  • Karishma Jhalani .... Young Radha
  • Ramanjeet Kaur .... Young Radha's mother
  • Dilip Mehta .... Young Radha's father
  • Javed Jaffrey .... Jatin
  • Nandita Das .... Sita
  • Kushal Rekhi .... Biji
  • Shabana Azmi .... Radha
  • Ranjit Chowdhry .... Mundu
  • Kulbhushan Kharbanda .... Ashok
  • Alice Poon .... Julie
  • Ram Gopal Bajaj .... Swamiji
  • Deepa Mehta .... Screenwriter
  • Deepa Mehta .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

  • Fire official movie site
  • Awards and film festivals:
    • Barcelona International Women's Film Festival 1997: Won: Audience Award: Fiction Film
    • Goat Island Film Festival 1997
    • LA Outfest 1997: Won: Audience Award: Outstanding Narrative Feature (Deepa Mehta), Grand Jury Award: Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film (Shabana Azmi)
    • Mannheim-Heidelberg International Filmfestival 1996: Won: Special Prize of the Jury (Deepa Mehta); Nominated: International Independent Award: Best Feature (Deepa Mehta)
    • Vancouver International Film Festival 1996: Won: Most Popular Canadian Film (Deepa Mehta)
    • Verona Love Screens Film Festival 1997: Won: Best Film (Deepa Mehta)
  • NB: Hindi language dialogue with English language subtitles
  • Studios and distributors:

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Fire is about an extended family trying to get their rocks off with all the wrong people. In other words, it's a bit of a melodrama despite its noble PR intentions.

And I found it a bit boring, too. Despite being a radical militant lesbian feminist I just didn't find that this film had much to say to me. While I'm sure that people in India (or even suburbia) may find the lezzo love scenes titillating and/or shocking, hey, I've seen worse at Mardi Gras. Perhaps I'm just another jaded critic, but perhaps this film was made for, of and from an Indian sensibility, and it doesn't get down to the nitty gritty that we here in the cynical and debauched West need for stimulation.

If the things I have been complaining about are turning you on then see it by all means, otherwise wait for it to come out on video. Especially if it's raining and cold: it's a rainy, cold Sunday avo kind of movie.

Security censorship classification

M (Sex scenes, low level coarse language)

Surveillance time

104 minutes (1:44 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 26 November 2000

Cinema surveillance images

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