MovieChat Forums > FireĀ (1996) Discussion > Courting Controversy?

Courting Controversy?

Ultra-Conservative Indians go crazy at the use of religious figures.

Non-Indians immediately think this controversial movie thats unsettling the natives must be worth seeing because its "pushing the boundries"

Overall, great publicity for a movie aimed at the Non-Indian market!

But what is the real problem with Fire? I'm quite confused about what I think of it...

On one hand, compared to "Bollywood", its progress, theres no denying that films should be made that talk about real issues that affect real people.

But on the other, the literally non-stop Hindu references (bashing) are just overbearing. A little subtlety would go a long way.

Indians would be able to appreciate the movie for the content, while Non-Indians would be able to expand their knowledge afterwards (if they wished to) by learning more about Indian culture.

But thats not the case.

The problem with the way it was done, is that it is extremely difficult for a person familiar and comfortable with Indian culture, to not be offended by a movie featuring a lesbian affair between "Sita" and "Radha". Imagine a movie featuring a gay affair between a guys called "Jesus" and "Moses", its just not necessary and really only serves an extremely superficial purpose.

Instead of allowing the audience to think, it comes across like a "show and tell" of what Deepa Mehta thinks is wrong with India. This is by far the worst of her trilogy in that respect, although both Water and Earth do have some features that do seem to serve no purpose other than provide shock value.

I guess the point is, this movie was made with this level (lack) of subtlety around any religious ideology, it would have caused controversy, think of the Midwest or Mideast!

I guess that my problem problem with Fire isn't what it says exactly, moreso, the way it says it.


I respect what you said.

In my personal defense, this way this film portrayed homosexuality honestly isn't unrealisitc at all. I'm a homosexual and the way our two leads constantly refer to religion is seriously something that so many gay people do. Here, in America, many gays constantly criticize nearly every branch of christianity when the "being gay" topic comes up. Literally, it is always brought up and even moreso than the women in this movie.I don't personally believe that Deepa Mehta was going out of her way to bash Hinduism, but she was trying to say that every individual should have the right to live their life the way they want to and relgion, as well as society and culture can be extreme obstacles. That is also why the film was such a success in international countries,not only for the controversy, but how she portrayed what life is like being gay, not only in India, but in so many other places in the world as well. It can be a nightmare because culture can be so unaccepting and even abusive when it comes to being different. I totally understand why you considered this film to be offensive, but that really wasn't the intent. The way the both of these women were almost always speaking, like in many other cultures was showing what it is really like to struggle with your true identity and when just about everything else that represents how you were brought up is completely opposed to it. It is something that is constantly broughht up. I've yet to see a more honest film depicting the topic. This film is head on.

I completely understand where you were coming from though.


Exactly religion does effect homosexuality,afterall it's condemned in most religions.This film was just showing that not targeting Hinduism especially-it could have been any religion and any country,it just happened to be set in India.The message is universal,we should have the freedom to be who we really are.

I'm Bi so what!


Fire was not a film on homosexuality. It appears on the most superficial level of the film. It was about the cultural and emotional oppression of women in indian house holds. The chauvinistic, dangerously conservative 'Shivsena' supporters cannot think of women realizing their needs, emotions and status.

A lesbian affair between Sita and Radha(Of course I refer only to the names) is not as same as a gay relation between Jesus and Moses because Sita and Radha are pretty common names in indian society but Jesus and Moses are not so common names, anywhere...A gay relation between Joseph and John would be more comparable.

By the way, this film was not banned in my part of India(Kerala) and was a reasonable hit. May be because many youngsters went for the film expecting some steamy hot sexuality...:)

Excellent film.


While I agree that "Fire" is beautiful and moving, I must also agree with the original poster to the extent that it was obvious this movie was made to create controversy.


Just to add to what you said, kroby, Sita and Radha are supposed to be the most ideal women in Hinduism. The choice of names for the characters is ironic and clever :)



I agree, and I do think Sita is obscenely hot. I blame House for my obscene overuse of the word "Obscene". And might I add that this is the most grown-up argument I've ever seen on any message board anywhere. *claps* kudos. Though, i can't comment much on the Hindu aspect of this movie, seeing as i know next to nothing about Hinduism. But i do not think this movie set out to blast Hinduism, but I think if it pissed anyone off, it was am added bonus. because, honestly, That's the mark of a good movie. because it gets both sides, it gets those of us who know and understand the gay culture and the problems they face because of their sexuality, and it gets those who watch it just to get pissed off and prove to themselves that their bigoted views on peoples' race, sexuality, religious beliefs, etc. are right. not to forget the guys who watch hoping for nude sex scenes. So the point is to get people to watch and talk about it, whether it's good or bad. As they say, "there's no such thing as bad publicity."

Faith LeHane. Making women question their sexuality since 1998.


nothing clever about choosing sita and radha as the characters names, just a blatant attempt to hurt Hindu sentiment...


It's not the commonality of the names that's the issue. It's the obvious attempt to poke at two religious consorts, why not an affair between Meena and Seema ? No. Radha and Sita have obvious religious significance, that's what he meant by Jesus and Moses.

While Joseph and John are apostles, they are also common enough secular names as well. There's really no western analogy that fits, because in Christianity, overtly religious names like Jesus, Moses, Ezechiel, Jebediah, etc.. are avoided by the secular.

In India Hinduism, religious/secular has much more of a blur. Ie you can name your child Rama, Krishna, Sita, Radha without appearing to be an ultra religious fanatic zealot.