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Fire Review

Pratima Agnihotri / fullhyd.com
EDITOR RATING
8.0
Performances
Script
Music/Soundtrack
Visuals
NA
NA
NA
NA
Suggestions
Can watch again
NA
Good for kids
NA
Good for dates
NA
Wait to rent it
NA
When it was first released, Fire was a scandal. Too many holy cows did it rub the wrong way! Now that with the passing of time soot has covered up the blazing fire of controversies, one can look at the apparently path-breaking film in a more objective way.

Fire is a critique of the typical middle class Indian family from the Hindi belt and the way that it treats its women. The badi bahu Sita, so ably enacted by Shabana Azmi, is the backbone of the family, but neither the husband, who is a devoted follower of a dicey Sadhu, nor the chhota dewar, whom, in the true fashion of the Hindi film, she has brought up like the son she never could have, care for her comfort. The old and ill mother-in-law and the adoring crook of a family servant, another typical Hindi film character that Fire mocks, add to her never ending travails.

Into this mess walks in the smouldering Nandita Das as the younger daughter-in-law. Her's is a volatile enough situation. Her husband is not interested in this marriage, which is a sacrifice he undertakes for the sake of the family, as his ambitious girl-friend would not be bound by the ghar-grihasthy. So, for no fault of her's, the young woman feels frustrated in many a way. How she finds an outlet for all the suppressed libidinous desires and how her immediate family react to it is what made the film the furore that it was.

The film sure makes a feminist statement, that is ably helped by the casting coup. Shabana Azmi as the understanding, long suffering bahu is a subversion that is as interesting as Javed Jaffrey as the yuppie Indian on the move who hates his motherland, best signified by the family with whom he shares a hate-love relationship. Nandita Das as the confident younger daughter-in-law is a promising debut.

Yet, with the vantage point of all the controversies that the film kicked up, one fails to understand why this young woman, who can slap back her hitting husband, chooses to enter into a lesbian relationship. She could very well have walked out on her oaf of a husband. She could have supported her jethani from outside the family as anyway she finally does. In other words, in her eager hurry to take potshots at Indian prototypes, Deepa Mehta forgets to give a depth and a logic to her story and characters. Why can not she show Sita to be modern enough to adopt an orphaned child? Why is she to enter into an infamous relationship with a bleak future?

In brief, so obsessed is the director with grand gestures against Indian traditions - as exemplified by the very names of her characters - that she loses the credibility of her own film. A debut director who pokes justifiable fun at the karwa chauth, another must of a Hindi film, can not resist the temptation of a sacrificial fire purifying her version of a Sita!

The film, in other words, becomes too much a content-oriented debate leading to umpteen fire fighting, but hardly is there any filmic angle to map its controversial content. Too much scandal mongering, in brief, can ring in the cash box, covering the production costs et al, but in the final analysis it reduces serious issues women suffer to mere wind fanning the Fire!
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FIRE SNAPSHOT
USER RATING
2.0
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USER RATING
2.0
1 USER
Performances
Script
Music/Soundtrack
Visuals
NA
NA
NA
NA
Can watch again - NA
Good for kids - NA
Good for dates - NA
Wait to rent it - NA
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