Deepa Mehta’s “Fire”

Deepa Mehta’s “Fire”

“Fire” is an Indo-Canadian film by Deepa Mehta, released on 1996. The movie has three male protagonists named Ashok, Jatin and Mundu (wikipedia)

Analysis of three male characters in the film provides a larger scope to the plot, a better idea to India’s first ever most controversial lesbian film.
Ashok and Jatin are brothers, Ashok being the eldest is married but with no children and Jatin the youngest is married as the story beings screening. Mundu is the helper, an unmarried man. The film depicts the life of a middle aged man Ashok with a half-hearted sex life, Jatin with a half-hearted marriage and Mundu who satisfies his ego with the insufficiency and discrepancies in the family drama. The presence of a sick, old, paralyzed lady as Bijii (mother to Ashok and Jatin) is the audience, the witnesser providing direct reactions to the family drama. Ashok can be called to have reached sanctity, with his wife’s barrenness he finds a possibility for bramhacharya. Ashok keeps Radha secured in the house as an object to test his celibacy now and then. Jatin on the other hand being aware of the relationship between Radha and Ashok finds security in having an amusing sex-life, something which gives him a high to his identity. Mundu the male servant in the house has a desperate sex life dealing more with timely pleasures like watching erotic films.
Ashok deliberately takes the decision of celibacy irrespective of being married. It was his indirect move to punishing Radha for her infertility as he is found regretting at times for the same. Jatin is found with a Chinese girl Julie who provides her a sex life which amuses him much for being different than what his brother has been into. Jatin simultaneously has a dual life, as a married man to Nita (Sita) and on the other hand he is a hot lover to Julie.
The three male protagonist are into three different sex lives abandoning the two women in the house Nita and Radha. Nita and Radha find solace in each other’s body and thus a lesbian relationship is revealed on screen.
Ashok is the epitome of a male life and Jatin cautiously picks traits from Ashok’s life that he does not need to do, to be like Ashok. Jatin has a hidden sex life with Julie not just before marrying Nita but also after it (in fact with her knowledge). Jatin through his rebellious attitude is found rebelling against the society where marriage is a ritual and punishes Nita for being naive enough to get into it with him. Ashok’s belief that he has respectfully abandon Radha from being cursed for her inability to bear a child turns Radha to exploring sex in a woman. Jatin is seen onscreen as a man with many hidden lives. Jatin secretly sells erotic film DVDs even without the consent of his elder brother Ashok and equally manages an illegitimate relationship. Mundu, the servant, is the one in the house who is aware of every hidden lives and he makes the most with this secrecy for his benefit. Mundu is the one who identifies the lesbian relationship between Radha and Nita and Mundu is also the one who discloses the relationship to the family.
The film is a depiction of a gloomy sexuality in the house. A house where sex is not gratifying but hidden, cursed, abandon or exaggerated. One can identify a sense of gender bias when Radha is prohibited in making a decision about Mundu’s presence in the house. A hierarchical discrimination between the male characters could also be noted when Ashok being the eldest could slap Jatin despite he (Jatin) being a grown up man.
Bijii plays the live audience in the house, her reactions are the emotional upheavals of the audiences watching the film. The film highlights the domestic lives of women and their submission to the patriarchal society. The film equally well pronounces on screen the male responsibilities as being the bread-winner of the family. The film reveals a clash between desires and duties, between frivolousness and commitment, between being carefree and caring, between desperateness and peace.

Work cited
Mehta, Deepa (Director). Fire (film). 1996. Kaleidoscope Entertainment Trial by Fire Films. Youtube.
Wikipedia contributors. “Fire (1996 film).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 21 Sep. 2021. Web. 10 Oct. 2021.

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Ansulika Paul

Ansulika Paul

Ansulika Paul is a poet, author, researcher and filmmaker. She is a filmmaker by heart and a film critic by words.

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